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in  2013 

Richard  Tuttle 



\  F\V  YORK 

SEPTEMBER  12-NOVEMBER  16,  1975 



JANUARY  16-FEBRUARY  29,  1976 

Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art 
Gertrude  Vanderbilt  Whitnev.  Foundei 


Arthur  G.  Altschul,  Treasurer 
Thomas  N.  Armstrong  III.  Director 
Norborne  Berkeley,  Jr. 
Lawrence  H.  Bloedel 
Daniel  R.  Childs 
Joel  S.  Ehrenkranz 
B.  H.  Friedman 
W.  Barklie  Henry 
Susan  Morse  Hilles 
Michael  H.  Irving 
Flora  Miller  Irving,  Vice  President 
Howard  Lipman,  President 
William  A.  Marsteller 
Flora  Whitney  Miller,  Honorary  Chairman 
Steven  Muller 
Sandra  Payson 
Jules  D.  Prown 
Mrs.  Laurance  S.  Rockefeller 
Benno  C.  Schmidt 
Charles  Simon 
David  M.  Solinger,  Chairman 
Laurence  A.  Tisch 

Palmer  B.  Wald,  Administraloi  and  Secretary 

John  I.  H.  Baur,  Honorary  Trustet 
Lloyd  Goodrich,  Honorary  Trustei 
Alan  H.  Temple,  Honorary   Trustee 

Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York 

Otis  Art  Institute  Gallery  of  Los  Angeles  County,  Los  Angeles 

Copyright  1975  by  the  Whitney  Museum  ol  American  Art, 
945  Madison  Avenue,  New  York,  N.Y.  10021 

Library  t.i  ( longress  Catalogue  ( lard  Numbei    76- 1  1 16 
ISBN  0-87427-020-0 

Designed  In  Joseph  Bourke  Del  Valle 

I'n n led  iii  i lie  United  States  ol  America  by  Eastern  Press,  New  Haven 

Photographs  by  Rudolph  Burckhardt,  Geoffrey  Clements, 

I  lal  ( ;ii<  ksiu.ui.  I  ).m  I  .enoie.  Warren  Silverman,  Marcia  I  ucker 

Preface  and  Acknowledgments 

This  catalogue  and  my  accompanying  essay  on  Richard  Tuttle's  work  were  begun  after  the  exhibition  of 
his  work  at  the  Whitney  Museum  closed  on  November  16,  1975.  There  were  three  installation  changes 
within  the  two-month  period  of  the  exhibition,  and  the  catalogue  not  only  reflects  those  changes  but  also 
focuses  on  the  specific  works  shown  in  each.  For  this  reason,  the  catalogue  and  the  essay  deal  almost 
exclusively  with  the  works  made  for  the  show  rather  than  with  Tuttle's  total  oeuvre.  Although  both 
Tuttle  and  I  believed  that  the  work  we  selected  for  each  installation  ultimately  covered  a  wide  range  of 
his  concerns,  we  did  not  attempt  to  be  comprehensive  but  rather  chose  pieces  according  to  the  dictates  of 
the  space,  each  work's  relationship  to  other  pieces  in  the  exhibition,  and  our  own  preferences. 

Thus,  the  catalogue  is  a  selective  and  a  personal  one.  The  essay,  similarly,  does  not  attempt  to 
deal  with  Tuttle's  own  history  or  those  aspects  of  his  work  which  relate  to  the  concerns  of  other 
contemporary  artists.  I  have  chosen  not  to  discuss  the  work,  for  example,  in  the  context  of  a 
Post-Minimal  aesthetic,  but  rather  to  concentrate  on  those  specific  aspects  of  it  that  intrigue  me.  It  is  my 
hope  that,  if  the  essay  clarifies  these  aspects,  the  analogies  to  other  artists'  work  done  in  the  ten  years  of 
Tuttle's  work  that  the  exhibition  covers  will  become  clear. 

I  wish  to  thank  the  many  people  who  helped  with  the  exhibition  and  whose  enthusiasm  and 
support  were  essential  to  it.  Jock  Truman,  of  the  Parsons-Truman  Gallery,  and  the  gallery  staff  were 
inordinately  helpful  in  providing  information  of  every  kind.  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel  allowed  us  to 
peruse  their  extraordinary  collection  of  Tuttle's  drawings  in  their  home  at  our  leisure  and  to  borrow- 
extensively  from  it.  Their  generosity,  and  the  generosity  of  the  other  lenders  who  willingly  sent  work  to 
the  exhibition,  is  greatly  appreciated.  Robert  Pincus-VVitten,  who  has  had  a  long-time  interest  in  Tuttle's 
work,  was  kind  enough  to  share  his  ideas  with  me  and  to  offer  invaluable  moral  support. 

In  the  Museum,  I  would  like  to  thank  Elizabeth  Easton  for  her  research  and  organizational 
help;  Roni  Feinstein,  who  transcribed  my  notes  and  worked  through  the  three  all-night  installations 
with  us;  and  especially  Katherine  Sokolnikoff,  whose  help  was  indispensable  to  every  aspect  of  the 
exhibition  and  catalogue.  Tim  Yohn  once  again  provided  a  thoughtful  and  critical  editing  of  the  essay.  I 
would  like  to  thank  Tom  Armstrong,  the  Whitney  Museum's  Director,  for  his  personal  and  professional 
support  when  hostility  toward  the  unconventional  manner  in  which  the  exhibition  was  organized 
reached  a  fever  pitch. 

Most  of  all,  thanks  to  Richard  Tuttle;  the  close  contact  with  him  and  with  his  work  have 
reinforced  my  belief  in  his  integrity  and  vision  and  in  the  power  of  works  of  art  to  change  one's  life. 


"Someone  once  asked  me  why  I  do  these  pieces. 
It's  so  I  don't  have  to  make  them  again." 

Richard  Tuttle 

The  work  of  Richard  Tuttle  often  shocks  viewers  with  its  offhandedness,  its  modest  informality  and  its 
rough,  impermanent  look.  Tuttle's  pieces  are  insistent;  their  often  small  size,  visual  frailty  and  blatant 
disregard  for  the  kind  of  technical  refinement  found  in  "major"  art  stubbornly,  even  perversely, 
command  attention.  These  pieces  are  so  removed  from  the  attitudes  and  modes  of  working  found  in  the 
art  of  most  of  Tuttle's  peers  that  their  individuality  alone  constitutes,  for  many  viewers,  an  offense  in 

Tuttle's  own  attitudes  are  refreshingly  anomalous  in  an  era  when  art  means  business.  For  him, 
an  essential  level  of  his  work  is  that  of  "investigation."  He  is  often  surprised  by  the  changes  that  take 
place  in  a  piece  upon  completion  or  when  an  old  work  is  installed  in  a  new  location.  He  is  reluctant  to 
make  comparative  judgments  about  the  quality  of  his  own  work,  because  he  finds  that  each  piece  is 
"self-sufficient."  having  its  own  necessity  for  being.  One  key  to  the  peculiar  look  of  the  work  is  that  Tuttle 
has  always  tried  "to  make  something  that  looks  like  itself,"  that  is,  to  avoid  anthropomorphic  or 
naturalistic  references.  He  also  avoids  polemic  in  his  work,  refusing  to  use  the  work  to  deal  with  art  issues 
per  se.  That  one  is  led  to  discuss  the  work  as  though  it  had  a  mind  of  its  own  is  a  result  of  Tuttle's  desire  to 
make  work  that  looks  "ecstatic,  as  though  the  artist  had  never  been  there."  Tuttle  comments  that  "if  the 
artist  does  a  piece  of  real  work  and  we  see  it,  it's  as  though  we  ourselves  are  doing  it."1  This  exchange 
between  viewer  and  work  has  been  noted  by  others:  "If  we  really  attain  the  art  object  perceptually."  says 
Norberg-Schulz,  "we  may  get  a  strange  experience  of  participating."2  This  directness  accounts  in  part  for 
the  "my  kid  could  have  done  it"  response  to  Tuttle's  work,  a  response  so  marked  even  from  the 
aesthetically  sophisticated  viewer  as  to  make  the  childlike  aspect  of  Tuttle's  work  one  of  substantial 
importance  and  worth  considering.  This  quality  is  compounded  by  the  casual,  wobbly,  tentative  look  of 
the  lines  and  forms  he  uses,  and  the  simplicity  and  directness  of  their  execution.  The  instantaneous  look 
of  the  work,  as  if  each  piece  had  appeared  all  at  once,  makes  it  anomalous  to  a  public  which  equates  the 
value  of  the  materials  used,  the  amount  of  time  spent  in  the  execution  of  the  piece,  and  the  manual  skill 
of  the  artist  with  the  value  of  the  art  itself. 

In  this  sense,  Tuttle's  work  is  anti-materialistic,  transcendental  in  both  intent  and  affect. 
According  to  him,  "the  work  rests  at  the  unconscious  level.  Bringing  it  to  the  conscious  level  is  like 
resisting  its  own  will."  The  sense  of  quietude  that  the  exhibition  elicited  in  many  observers  is  at  the  core 
of  the  work.  It  is  an  interior,  almost  meditative  state  in  which  the  boundaries  between  work  and  viewer, 
inside  and  outside,  can  be  obliterated. 

Simplk  itv  is  perhaps  the  hardest  thing  of  all  to  accept  in  the  work;  the  pieces  are  about  seeing, 
rather  than  knowing  or  analyzing,  because  they  sensitize  our  ability  to  perceive  and,  further,  to  visualize. 
Tuttle  says  that  we  tend  to  admire  great  minds,  people  who  can  sustain  complexities  and  contradictions. 
"<  )n  the  other  hand,  nature  admires  the  simpleminded.  Nature's  admiration  is  exactly  the  opposite  of 
human  admiration.  Sonic  of  the  works  of  art  that  are  necessary  to  me  are  those  that  praise  my  simplicity, 
like  the  Isenheim  Altarpiece.  Once  having  seen  it.  I  couldn't  live  without  it.  Simplicity  and  complexity 
are  virtually  the  same  thing." 

There  is  a  tendency  toward  dematerialization  in  Tuttle's  work  from  1964  to  the  present  that 
lends  itself  to  analysis;  the  logic  of  this  tendency  is  broken  only  when  the  work  of  several  periods  is  seen  in 
a  non-linear,  conjunctive  way,  as  in  the  Whitney  exhibition. 

I  uttle  began,  in  1963-64,  by  making  a  series  of  three-inch  paper  cubes,  variously  incised  and 
folded,  that  can  be  held  in  the  hand.  Their  volumetric  quality  is  emphasized  by  a  lightweight  delicacy 
and  by  the  fact  thai  the  interior  forms  are  often  illusionistically  intricate,  focusing  on  how  the  area 
contained  by  the  surface  (i.e.,  the  volume)  can  be  manipulated.  These  pieces  were  followed  in  1964-66 
by  reliefs,  made  by  cutting  two  identical  pieces  of  plywood  and  joining  them  by  a  strip  of  wood  along  the 

sides.  These  were  then  sanded  and  painted  in  the  monochrome  muted  colors  that  hover  on  the  periphery 
of  symbolic  association:  Water  (cerulean  blue).  Fire  (salmon  red),  Bridgi  (chromatic  orange),  ///// 
(medium  gray),  Flower  (light  pink)  and  Fountain  (very  pale  gray).  These  works  have  been  referred  to  as 
"ideograms"3  or  "pictographs"4  because  they  seem  to  be  quasi-symbolic,  shorthand  references  to  real 
images  or  experiences.  These  works,  and  The  Twenty-Six  Series  or  "tin  alphabet"  of  1967,  were  made  to  be 
exhibited  on  the  wall  or  floor. 

Immediately  after  The  Twenty-Six  Series,  Tuttle  made  a  group  often  cloth  octagonals,  dved  in 
mute,  offbeat  pastels.  These  1967  octagonals,  like  the  preceding  pieces,  could  be  installed  either  on  the 
wall  or  floor,  the  question  of  whether  they  were  paintings  or  sculpture  becoming  irrelevant.  Dved  and 
wrinkled,  they  are  stored  crumpled  in  a  canvas  bag  and  installed  with  small  nails,  therefore  negating 
their  potential  objecthood.  Tuttle  called  the  cloth  octagonals  "drawings  for  three  dimensional  structures 
in  space.'"'  They  were  followed  by  twelve  white  paper  octagonals  (1970),  each  cut  from  a  pattern  and 
glued  directly  onto  the  wall.  These  paper  works  are  perceptually  so  elusive  that  it  is  often  difficult  to  see 
the  pieces  or,  when  one  does,  to  determine  whether  the  paper  constitutes  a  light  form  on  the  darker 
ground  of  the  wall  or  vice  versa.  The  light  changes  the  pieces  as  much  as  the  pieces  alter  the  light  around 
(or  on)  them,  but  they  are  as  much  like  shadows,  defined  by  their  delicate  edges,  as  they  are  like  volumes 
of  light. 

Just  after  the  1 1th  Paper  Octagonal,  Tuttle  executed  nine  wall  paintings  derived  from  it.  These 
were  highly  chromatic,  geometric  paintings,  based  on  unit  measurements,  so  that  the  scale  of  the 
paintings  could  be  changeable  as  long  as  the  relationships  within  each  painting  remained  measurably 
constant.  The  red  9th  Painting  for  the  Wall  (1970)  in  the  first  installation,  for  instance,  was  visually  as 
elusive  as  the  paper  octagonals.  Because  it  was  executed  on  the  two  right-angled  edges  of  a  partition 
wall,  it  became  optically  fused  with  the  shadow  along  one  side,  so  that  it  was  mostly  only  visible  up  close. 

Up  to  this  point,  Tuttle's  work  was  clearly  tending  toward  dematerialization,  becoming  more 
ephemeral  as  it  became  more  a  part  of  the  wall  or  ground  plane  on  which  it  was  situated.  This  linear 
development  of  the  work,  however,  changed  from  1970  on,  since  the  wire  pieces  done  off  and  on  between 
1 97 1  and  1 974  once  again  moved  away  from  the  wall,  establishing  a  more  specific,  less  isolated  dialogue 
between  those  elements  of  volume,  line,  surface  and  shadow  that  Tuttle  had  been  involved  with 
previously.  The  wire  pieces  are  of  three  kinds.  Some,  like  the  3rd  Wire  Octagonal  ( 1971 )  or  6th  Wire  Bridge 
(1971),  are  drawings  done  with  thin  wire.  They  are  executed  by  placing  nails  in  the  wall  according  to  a 
brown  paper  pattern  on  which  their  location  is  marked,  then  loosely  stretching  the  wire  from  nail  to  nail. 
Others  are  done  by  drawing  the  wire  between  two  graphite  lines  and  cutting  it  at  the  center  {35th  Wire 
Piece  [  1972],  first  installation).  Still  others  are  done  by  drawing  a  line  from  one  point  to  another  (usually 
as  large  as  the  arms  can  span),  hammering  small  nails  in  at  the  beginning  and  end  of  the  lines,  then 
tracing  the  wire  along  the  graphite  lines,  bending  it  to  conform  to  the  linear  shape.  The  wire  is  attached 
at  both  ends  and  then  released,  causing  it  to  spring  out  from  the  wall.  The  freed  wire  casts  a  shadow, 
which  forms  the  third  element  in  the  triad  of  mark,  substance  and  shadow. 

Tuttle's  subsequent  series  of  works  alternate  between  two  and  three  dimensions  in  various  ways. 
The  1973  string  "drawings"  on  the  floor,  entitled  Ten  Kinds  of  Memory  and  Memory  Itself,  are  barely 
three-dimensional,  since  string  is  such  a  linear  material.  Nonetheless,  the  drawings  are  executed 
according  to  a  specific  movement  pattern,  which  can  be  repeated  in  order  to  reexecute  the  piece.  The 
movements  involve  sitting,  standing,  stretching,  kneeling,  etc.,  as  the  string;  is  drawn,  thrown  or  placed  as 
a  result  of  each  movement.  Although  Ten  Kinds  of  Memory  and  Memory  Itself  is  the  most  linear  and 
two-dimensional  of  Tuttle's  sculptural  pieces,  it  was  created  in  a  state  of  transition  between  two  and 
three  dimensions  because  its  execution  involves  a  choreographed  enactment  in  time  and  space, 

Similarly,  the  homasote  Placks  Tuttle  did  in  19715,  flat,  white,  mute  pieces  of  wallboard  hung 
below  eye  level,  were  non-volumetric.  They  were,  literally,  a  piece  of  wall  on  a  wall,  exploring  how  a  flat 
surface  can  be  part  of  a  three-dimensional  volume  that  is  a  room.  The  Blocks,  of  the  same  year,  are 
unmistakably  sculptural,  sitting  as  they  do  on  the  floor  a  specifically  measured  distance  out  from  the 
wall;  they  are  actually  lengths  of  two-by-four,  painted  white,  each  containing  an  abstract,  highly  colored 
image  which  goes  around  the  block  rather  than  appearing  on  only  one  surface.  Consequently,  these 
pieces  resemble  the  red  9th  Painting  for  the  Wall  in  that  a  painted  image  is  used  to  both  deny  and  verify  a 
volumetric,  sculptural  form. 

Tuttle  has  also  done  ten  rope  pieces  (1973),  made  of  various  lengths  of  ordinary  wash  cord,  cut 
and  slightly  frayed  at  the  ends  and  secured  to  the  wall  at  precisely  measured  points  relative  to  eye  level 
(or  derived  from  a  five-foot  center  point).  They  are  startling  because,  seen  from  a  distance,  they  are 
powerfully  present  in  the  room  despite  their  very  small  size  (the  3rd  Rope  Piece,  in  the  first  installation,  is 
only  three  inches  long).  What  happens  in  viewing  them  is  that  the  rope  loses  its  substance  and  the 
shadow  just  underneath  it  becomes  a  stronger  visual  presence  than  the  piece  itself.  The  rope  isolates  the 
wall  rather  than  vice  versa,  playing  a  peculiar  trick  of  figure-ground  reversal  with  its  environment  as  well 
as  with  itself. 

The  wooden  slat  "markers"  of  the  same  year  are  cut  from  quarter-inch  plywood,  approximately 
three  feet  high.  Generally,  the  pieces  are  long  rectangles,  angled  up  at  the  top  end.  They  are  placed  flush 
with  the  wall  and,  with  two  exceptions,  begin  perpendicular  to  the  floor;  on  part  of  each  piece,  the  edges 
are  painted  white.  Where  this  white  edge  exists,  it  throws  a  kind  of  obverse  shadow  onto  the  wall,  that  is, 
a  shadow-edge  of  reflected,  bright  light.  (One  of  the  pieces  is  painted  white  only  along  a  two-inch  bottom 
segment  of  one  side,  giving  it  an  aura  of  mystery  and  hermeticism,  a  secret  to  be  discovered  upon  close 
observation.)  In  many  of  Tuttlc's  winks,  most  especiallv  in  Ten  Kinds  of  Memory  and  Memory  Itself,  if  one 
length  of  string  crosses  another  properly,  an  area  of  brightness  or  intensity  is  created  which  Tuttle 
considers  an  important  element  in  his  pieces.  In  addition  to  the  reversal  of  light  and  shadow  caused  by 
the  edge  reflection  in  the  slats,  the  works  themselves  occupy  space  in  such  a  way  as  to  again  reverse  the 
expected  figure-ground  configuration,  but  in  a  different  way  from  the  expected  substance/shadow 
interplay  of  the  rope  pieces.  The  plywood  markers  seem  to  literally  cut  through  planar  space  so  that  the 
wall  seems  to  be  split  or  torn  open  to  reveal  the  plywood.  Each  marker  is  located  in  the  middle  of  a  wall, 
and  it  is  essential  for  it  to  be  isolated  and  centered  in  order  to  activate  the  space.  Tuttle's  ability  to  force 
the  environment  into  the  service  of  the  work  is  necessitated  by  the  work  itself,  rather  than  by  any 
arbitrary  desire  on  Tuttle's  part  to  take  up  a  lot  of  room.  After  several  attempts,  all  unsuccessful,  to 
situate  more  than  one  piece  on  a  wall  (even  a  very  large  one)  for  the  exhibition,  curatorial  prudence 
capitulated  to  the  stubborn  demand  oi  the  work  itself.  (This,  incidentally,  is  not  the  case  with  the  paper 
octagonals,  which  <  an  be  installed  either  singly  or,  as  in  the  second  installation,  together  on  a  wall,  each 
bisected  in  this  instance  by  a  ridge  where  the  four-foot  partitions  joined  each  other,  nor  is  it  true  of  the 
cloth  octagonals.  i 

That  Tut  tie's  work  draws  attention  to  the  architectural  peculiarities  of  any  space  in  which  it  is 
situated  has  been  noted  as  both  a  positive  and  negative  aspect  of  the  work.  Kspeciallv  in  Ins  1971! 
exhibition  at  The  Clocktower,  where  all  twelve  paper  octagonals  were  shown,  the  peculiarities  of  the 
space  wen  ver)  noticeable  because  of  the  high  degree  of  perceptual  acuity  required  to  locate  the 
o(  tagonals.  ( )ne  critic  remarked  that,  perceptually,  the  plywood  pieces  changed  when  seen  singly  from 
when  seen  in  a  group: 

Though  the  individual  pieces  are  deliberate!)    unostentatious  in  scale,  they  take  on  environmental 

proportions  when  viewed  as  a  group.  For  then  they  seem  to  play  off  one  another,  appropriating  the  room 
itself  as  their  arena:  the  white  walls  perform  as  both  positive  and  negative  elements.6 

A  journalist,  on  the  other  hand,  complained,  in  reviewing  the  Whitney  exhibition: 

The  trouble  with  Tut  tie's  art  is  that  it  is  mi  national:  that  is.  overly  dependent  upon  its  setting  for  its  effect. 
Like  the  plywood  slats  that  are  "straked"  into  the  floor  against  a  wall,  the  works  merely  accent  the  given 
space.  The  pieces  relinquish  so  much  of  their  formal  autonomy  that  thev  succeed  only  in  becoming  a 
perverse  type  of  interior  decoration/ 

The  slats  and  the  paper  octagonals  are  the  pieces  which  most  obviously  integrate  with  the  environment, 
but  in  fact  all  Tuttle's  works  have  this  effect;  no  matter  how  idiosyncratic  the  space,  the  room  or  setting 
for  the  pieces  becomes  a  specific  framework  without  which  the  pieces  cannot  function.  This  is  because  a 
work  makes  constant  reference  to  what  is  outside  itself— to  us  the  viewers,  to  the  space  which  houses  it,  to 
a  state  of  being  which  it  is  both  part  of  and  reflects.  The  work,  in  other  words,  is  not  self-referential  but 
operates  as  a  language,  in  dialogue  with  the  world  which  brought  it  into  being  and  to  which  it  eventually 
must  speak. 

This  is  true  of  works  which  are  not  as  closely  integrated  with  the  environment  as  the  slat  pieces 
but  appear  to  be  self-contained  objects  clearly  differentiated  from  their  surroundings.  The  four  Summer 
\\  ood  Pieces  I  1  97 4  |  are  squat,  bulky,  peculiar-looking  objects  that  do  not  appear  to  fit  into  a  categorical 
analysis  of  Tuttle's  work.  They  look  like  small  pieces  of  furniture  hung  on  the  wall,  although  their 
function  is  completely  obscured  and  their  forms  do  not  resemble  anything  at  all.  Their  facture  is  rough 
and  ungainly,  and  they  are  more  volumetric  than  any  of  the  other  works  in  the  exhibition.  They  are  most 
closely  related  to  several  works  done  for  a  1971  exhibition  at  the  Dallas  Museum  of  Fine  Arts  in  Texas 
where  Tuttle  executed  four  large,  freestanding  plywood  sculptures:  Cube,  Slope,  The  Rise  and  Double 
Direction.  These  in  turn  related  to  the  earliest  1964  paper  cubes  in  their  concerns.  Tuttle  said  specifically 
of  the  Dallas  sculptures,  which  like  the  gallery  walls  were  constructed  of  Ply- Veneer,  that  he  had  the  idea 
of  "getting  the  wall  material  away  from  its  two-dimensional  covering  function"  and  "making  it  do 
three-dimensional  work.""  This  concept  relates  to  the  Plack  pieces  of  1973  in  which  homasote,  a  building 
material,  acts  as  a  relief  sculpture  on  a  wall. 

Another  series  done  in  1973,  the  colored  triangles,  are  planar,  brightly  hued  and  akin  to  the 
plywood  markers  in  that  the)  originate  on  the  ground  plane  flush  against  a  wall.  1st  Colored  Triangle  is 
red.  yellow  and  blue  (top  to  bottom)  and  2nd  Colored  Triangle  is  green  and  blue.  They  are  surprisingly 
different  in  their  spatial  effect,  the  former  "lighting  up"  or  occupying  a  gnat  deal  of  visual  space,  the 
la  I  lei  two-colored  triangle  performing  a  figure-ground  alteration  similar  to  that  of  the  plywood  markets, 
although  in  a  more  heavil)  weighted  way.  The  gravitational  pull  of  these  two  works,  as  well  as  others 
w  hi<  h  sect  n  to  propel  themselves  slowly  into  the  ground  rather  than  spring  out  of  it,  hint  at  the  primal") 
concern  of  the  relationship  ol  the  human  body  to  Tuttle's  work. 

The  three  most  recent  groups  of  work,  done  during  the  past  year,  continue  earlier  investigations 
perhaps  in  a  more  obdurate  way.  The  ten  Houston  Works,  done  for  an  exhibition  at  the  Cusack  Gallery 
in  September  197").  are  the  smallest  pieces  Tuttle  has  done  to  date,  but  the  proportion  of  size  to  thickness 
ol  material  and  to  color  saturation  makes  them  analogous  to  the  19715  Placks.  The  I  louston  Works  are 
made  from  the  rounded  ends  of  coffee  stirrers,  colored  with  felt-tip  pen  (although  one,  the  8th  Houston 
M  ork,  in  the  second  installation,  was  covered  with  a  pale  lavender  paper  because  it  was  impossible  to  find 
a  fell  tip  pen  in  this  particular  color).  The  most  perceptually  elusive  of  these,  the  ninth  in  the  series  (third 
installation),  has  two  green  lines  along  either  side;  when  isolated  on  a  wall,  as  n  was  in  the  Whitney 

exhibition,  it  is  so  small  as  to  often  go  unnoticed.  Tuttle  says  of  these  tiny,  exquisitely  sensitive  works  that 
they  are  "about  states  of  loving,"  just  as  the  string  pieces  were  about  memory.  This  is  perhaps  because  the 
most  minute  differences  between  each  of  the  Houston  Works— changes  in  color,  direction  of  the  curved 
versus  straight  edge  of  the  stirrer,  the  kinds  of  shadows  cast  by  the  pieces,  their  placement  on  the 
wall— become  enormously  significant  in  proportion  to  their  tiny  size. 

The  Rome  Pieces,  also  done  in  1975,  are  equally  refined  in  visual  terms,  that  is,  they  are  small 
and  difficult  to  see  because  they  are  composed  of  paper  pasted  to  the  wall,  with  pencil  lines  intersecting 
or  underlining  them.  However  the  Rome  Pieces  are  more  cerebral  and  analytical,  more  rigorously 
diagrammatic  in  feeling  than  the  lyrical  and  chromatic  Houston  Works.  They  continue  Tuttle's 
concerns  with  the  interplay  of  substance  and  shadow.  Of  the  three  works  in  the  Whitney  show,  the  16th 
and  Nth  Rome  Pieces  (first  and  second  installations,  respectively )  have  graphite  lines  drawn  on  the  wall  in 
relation  to  the  pasted  paper  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  the  mark  and  the  extraordinarily  delicate  shadow 
cast  by  the  thin  edge  of  paper  ambiguously  interchangeable.  In  the  16th  Rome  Piece,  a  tiny  triangle  of 
pasted  white  paper  has  a  graphite  line  drawn  just  along  the  lower  edge  of  the  triangle.  In  the  Nth  Rome 
Piece,  two  vertical,  rectangular  pieces  of  white  paper  are  pasted  at  their  outer  edges;  where  they  meet  in 
the  center  a  graphite  line  is  drawn  but  it  is  barely  visible,  if  at  all,  through  the  slight  opening  where  the 
pieces  of  paper  are  not  attached.  The  3rd  Rome  Piece  (first  installation)  differs  in  that  the  pencil  lines  are 
drawn  along  four  sides  of  a  five-sided  paper  figure,  and  when  two  of  them  are  continued  to  twice  their 
length,  they  cross  and  form  an  X,  suggesting  the  reiteration  of  that  paper  shape  on  their  opposite  side. 
Through  precisely  measured  lines,  the  ghost  of  an  image  is  made  to  appear  in  the  mind's  eye;  logic 
dictates  the  incomplete  poetry  of  the  piece.  Whereas  the  graphite  line  here  suggests  the  substantive 
aspect  of  the  piece  (i.e.,  the  paper),  the  substance  that  does  not  exist  on  the  other  side  of  the  work  becomes 
a  ghost  image  or  shadow  because  it  is  only  implied. 

The  Cincinnati  Pieces,  done  for  an  exhibition  at  the  Contemporary  Arts  Center  in  that  city,9 
constitute  another  mode  of  exploring  this  same  question  of  illusion  and  substance.  Cut  from 
two-by-fours  painted  white,  the  ends  angled,  they  are  hung  from  a  hole  drilled  in  the  back  of  each 
piece— as  were  the  earlier  wood  pieces  like  Yellow  Dancer  or  .1  \h  Wednesday,  both  1965— and  tilt  according 
to  an  exactly  calculated  gravitational  pull  which  Tuttle  duplicates  by  usiny  a  brow  n  paper  prototype  to 
(icier  mine  the  placement  of  the  nail  on  the  wall.  Each  piece  is  cut  at  a  different  angle  and  situated  alone 
on  a  wall,  tilting  at  a  different  angle.  Once  again,  the  pale,  chalk-white  chunky  object,  whose  cast 
shadow  is  visually  as  substantial  as  the  wood  itself,  becomes  mysteriously  ephemeral,  a  "ghost  of  its 
former  self." 

Seen  0U1  ol  context,  that  is,  prior  to  installation,  the  Placks.  Blocks.  Wood  Slats,  Cincinnati 
Pieces  and  even  the  cloth  octagonals  (crumpled  into  a  canvas  bag)  do  not  look  like  anything  at  all.  The 
wire  pieces,  made  from  florist's  w  ire  uncoiled  directly  from  the  spool,  and  the  rope  pieces,  cut  and  frayed 
on  the  spot,  are  not  even  visible  as  potential  an  before  installation.  Rather,  Tuttle's  works  spring  into 
being  as  though,  like  a<  tors  waiting  patiently  in  the  wings,  they  come  to  life  only  as  the  play  commences. 
I  hus,  although  the)  arc  <  learly  obje<  is  when  installed,  they  deny  their  nature  at  the  same  time  they 
confirm  ii.  I>\  being  ephemeral  and  dependent  upon  the  artist  and  the  audience  to  animate  them. 

Tuttle's  art  is.  in  this  sense,  one  ol  de material izat ion.  Even  when  the  works  are  substantive  and 
bulky,  they  can  be  made  and  disassembled  rapidly,  and  their  materials  can  be  easily  obtained  almost 
anyw  here.  Tuttle  has  thus  allowed  the  value  of  his  work  to  be  shared  with  its  environment  rather  than 
with  its  materials,  and  with  the  artist's  activity  rather  than  his  product.  Tuttle  talks  about  how  much  he 
enjoys  executing  his  work.  Having  "the  possibility  of  immortalizing  an  activity  that's  right  for  you  (like 
making  the  wire  pieces)  is  quite  harmless,  it's  fun;  and  in  a  way  this  is  quite  exciting." 

A  summary  of  what  Tuttle's  work  is— and  looks  like— leads  the  viewer  to  trace  a  development  of 
increasing  dematerialization  until  the  1970  paper  octagonals,  and  to  retrace  from  that  point  until  the 
present  a  continuation  of  the  sense  of  visual  dematerialization  without  an  accompanying  decrease  in  the 
material  itself.  That  is,  Tuttle  seems  to  have  explored  the  extent  to  which  he  could  render  the  work 
ephemeral  without  depending  upon  the  thickness  or  thinness  of  the  material  for  such  an  effect. 

One  finds  that  Tuttle's  work  has  also  become  increasingly  situational,  that  is,  inseparable  from 
the  specific  time  and  space  in  which  it  is  seen.  He  has  also  made  it  clear  in  his  work  that,  in  a 
period— particularly  between  1965  and  1970— when  painting  and  sculpture  seemed  to  polarize  and  to 
occupy  separate  critical  arenas,  his  was  an  art  which  was  not  about  its  own  conventions,  but  about  states 
of  thinking,  seeing  and  feeling— states  of  being— to  which  the  issue  of  whether  it  was  painting  or 
sculpture  was  totally  irrelevant. 

Several  questions  concerning  the  nature  of  Turtle's  art,  outside  its  formal  aspects,  remain  to  be  answered, 
and  these  are  questions  not  of  what  and  how,  but  of  why.  The  most  important  aspect  of  Tuttle's  work 
appears  to  center  on  its  affective  nature,  that  is,  on  why  work  of  such  apparent  simplicity,  modesty  and 
casualness  is  able  to  create  such  a  strong  response.  This  is  not  to  say  that  the  response  to  Tuttle's  work  is 
always  the  same  but,  if  the  reactions  to  the  Whitney  exhibition  are  typical,  they  are  never  ones  of 
indifference.  It  seems  that  the  response  generally  centers  on  the  issue  of  how  the  work  could  do  so  much 
with  so  little.  The  tiny  1 0th  Rope  Piece  (second  installation),  for  instance,  prompted  one  observer  to 
remark  on  its  astonishing  poignancy  and  prompted  another  to  steal  it.  One  critic  admires  Tuttle's  abilitv 
to  "control  an  enormous  expanse  of  space  with  the  slightest  amount  of  physicalitv."1"  Another  complains 
that  "the  spectator  soon  becomes  so  sensitized  to  the  lilliputian  scale  and  teeny-weeny  subtleties  of 
Tuttle's  work  that  he  begins  to  scrutinize  ordinary  hairline  cracks  in  the  wall.""  It  is  clear  that  Tuttle's 
work,  in  order  to  be  seen  at  all,  focuses  the  viewer's  attention  in  a  particular  way,  forcing  a  concentration 
that  alters  ones  vision  not  only  of  the  pieces,  but  of  everything  around  them  as  well,  even  to  the  extent  of 
compelling  one  to  pay  attention  to  the  very  act  of  paying  attention. 

This  phenomenon  can  perhaps  be  explained  by  understanding  that,  in  Tuttle's  work,  as  in  the 
work  of  most  artists  who  are  concerned  with  anything  other  than  the  purely  formal  aspects  of  their  art, 
the  work  is  the  product  of  a  dialogue  between  interior  and  exterior  states.  This  is  a  classic  concept. 
sometimes  seen  as  a  translation  of  emotional  states  onto  the  canvas  (as  in  Abstract  Expressionism),  as  a 
way  of  finding  pictorial  images  to  represent  a  narrative  situation,  or  as  a  system  of  visual  equivalences  for 
spoken  language.  The  artist  does  not,  even  in  a  painting  of  the  most  realistic,  photographic  image, 
consider  that  internal  and  external  events  are  exactly  the  same;  one's  attitude  about  an  object,  for 
example,  i  an  alter  the  way  one  sees  the  object. 

In  the  translation  of  internal  events  to  external  events,  we  assume  that  the  two  are  different,  that 
w  hile  external  events  have  a  physicalitv  to  them,  to  be  accommodated  internally  they  must  "lack  at  least 
the  physicalitv  of  their  external  counterparts."'-  Because  much  of  the  peculiarity  of  Tuttle's  work  lies  in 
the  fact  that  it  is  not  only  physically  insubstantial,  but  that  the  objects  he  makes  do  not,  as  is  his 
intention,  resemble  anything  but  themselves,  we  are  led  to  assume  indeed,  to  feel  distinctly  that  he  is 
interested  in  the  expression  of  interior  states  rather  in  a  reexamination  of  the  physical  world.  Thisqualit) 
is  responsible  for  the  metaphysical,  poetic,  transcendent  feeling  occasioned  by  the  presence  of  Tuttle's 
woik.  just  as  it  is  also  responsible  for  its  "quietude"  or  unobtrusiveness.  This  gentle  silence  is  unnerving 
because  it  demands  a  great  deal  from  the  observer;  time,  patience,  care,  attention  to  detail,  a  slow  search 
foi  meaning,  foi  clarity.  The  work  comes  into  focus  slowly  and  cannot  be  grasped  — or  sometimes  even 
seen— all  at  on<  e  or  easily,  so  that  its  value  as  entertainment  is  negligible. 


Tuttle's  work,  in  other  words,  does  not  resemble  things  in  the  world  because  he  is  exploring  the 
presence  of  nonphysical  states  in  himself.  Examples  of  such  nonphysical  things,  which  are  part  of  interior 
states,  are  the  mental  categories  of  time  and  space,  beginning  and  end,  part  and  whole,  singular  and 
plural,  equal  and  different,  cause  and  effect;  also,  the  category  of  number,  and  other  nonspecific  mental 
categories  that  are  necessary  but  not  sufficient  aspects  of  works  of  art,  like  line,  point,  area  or  volume.'3 
These  "pure"  mental  categories  do  not  directly  affect  or  change  the  observable  qualities  of  things;  that  is, 
if  we  choose  to  see  the  top  of  Tuttle's  First  Green  Octagonal  (1967)  as  its  beginning,  or  the  bottom  as  its 
beginning,  this  will  affect  how  we  see  the  piece  but  will  not  change  the  work's  actual  color,  material, 
shape,  size  or  proportions.  That  Tuttle  is  concerned  with  pure  mental  categories  becomes  clear  when 
watching  him  install  the  cloth  octagonals,  because  he  pays  no  attention  whatsoever  to  how  they  are 
hung;  the  same  piece,  hung  on  a  loosely  vertical  axis  on  the  wall  in  the  first  installation,  was  shown  lying 
on  the  floor  in  the  second,  and  on  the  wall  again,  horizontally  on  the  diagonal,  in  the  third  installation. 
Similarly,  whether  one  of  the  forty-eight  wire  pieces  is  seen  as  a  whole  piece  or  part  of  a  series  does  not 
affect  its  observable  physical  properties,  but  rather  conceptually  enriches  its  simple  and  straightforward 
appearance.  The  limitations  of  formal  description  in  dealing  critically  with  Tuttle's  work  have  been 
noted  by  several  astute  critics  of  his  work.  Carter  Ratcliff  commented  that  "Tuttle  arranges  it  so  that 
there  is  no  end  to  a  formal  description  of  his  new  works  nor  any  sense  that  such  a  description  would  lead 
far  if  elaborated."14  Susan  Heinemann,  similarly,  noted  that 

a  physical  description  of  Richard  Tuttle's  new  work  seems  totalis  inadequate  to  the  occasion.  One  does 
not  see  Tuttle's  pieces  as  self-contained  objects,  as  hermetic  repositories  of  meaning.  In  fact,  one  doesn't 
merely  "see"  Tuttle's  works;  one  experiences  them  through  one's  body.  .  .  .  Tuttle's  pieces  are  more  like 
markers,  indices  by  which  one  measures  rather  than  enacts  one's  situational  space,  one's  being  in  the 
world. '' 

Much  of  Tuttle's  work  is  a  translation  into  objects  of  interior  states  which  have  no  physical 
analogue,  and  because  as  art  objects  they  are  so  unfamiliar  to  us,  they  exist  only  when  we  pay  attention 
to  them.  In  fact,  Selvio  Ceccato  notes: 

It  is  obvious  that  nothing  could  be  mentally  "present"  for  us  without  the  intervention  of  atten- 
tion. .  .  .  For  the  constitution  of  ever)  mental  construct,  that  is  of  ever)  possible  content  of  thought  and  of 
thought  itself,  the  essential  activity  is  that  which  we  call  attentional.16 

Interestingl)  .  ( !e<  <  ato  points  out  that  attention  can  be  applied  by  the  mind  only  to  the  functioning  of 
other  organs— the  car.  the  hand,  the  mouth,  the  nose  and,  especially  relevant  here,  the  eyes— for  "discrete 
intervals  of  time,  ranging  from  a  tenth  of  a  second  to  a  second  and  a  half."  If  one  tries  to  prolong  it.  the 
attempt  produces  a  hypnotic  state  in  which  the  "hold"  of  the  attention  is  dulled.17  Thus,  the 
semihypnotic  quality  caused  by  looking  attentively  and  continuously  at  a  Tuttle  work  may  be 
responsible  in  part  foi  the  experience  of  the  work  being  described  as  a  "meditative"  one. 

It  is  the  memory,  however,  that  serves  to  link  moments  of  pure  attention  together.  Attention  is 
also  directed  not  only  on  the  act  of  "seeing"  the  piece,  but  on  the  mental  categories  previously  mentioned 
i  i.e..  space  time,  beginning,  end.  part,  w  hole-,  etc.),  as  well  as  on  the  effect  of  the  whole.  Thus  attention  is 
not  isolated  01  fragmented  but  constitutes  a  part  of  a  changing  series  of  relationships  between  physical 
and  "psychical"  observation,  that  is.  feeling,  foe  using,  thinking,  reacting,  etc. 

Physical  observation  is  observation  localized  in  space:  "psychical"  observation  is  localized  in 


Thus  physical  and  psychical  things  always  arise  in  pairs:  furthermore,  the  physical  thing  will  always  be 
situated  in  a  given  place,  separate  from  and  adjoining  another  physical  thing  in  another  place,  and  the 
ps\  chical  thing  v\  ill  always  be  situated  at  a  given  moment  in  time,  separate  from  another  psychical  thing 
at  another  moment.'" 

This  observation  about  the  nature  of  "things'"  (which  are  the  simplest  categorical  constructs)  may  help 
to  explain  why  Tuttle's  work  requires  so  much  space  and  time  in  order  to  be  apprehendable  in  a  clear 

Tuttle's  work  is  perceptually  elusive  because  he  seems  to  have  created  pieces  that  exist  in 
moments  of  change.  For  example,  the  paper  octagonals  could  be  said  to  vacillate  between  states  of  being 
because,  on  their  simplest  level,  they  can  be  seen  as  light  on  dark  or  vice  versa  depending  not  only  on  the 
time  of  day,  but  on  the  direction  from  which  they  are  viewed.  More  intricately,  Tuttle 

sets  simplicity  against  complexity.  This  (perceptual )  tension  is  at  the  edges  of  his  paper  objects  and  leaves 
them  physically,  formally,  blank  and  no  more;  they  are  not,  for  example,  blank  squares  or  blank  circles. 
When  one  feels  this  tension,  one's  feelings  for  the  work  can  begin;  one  can  sense  the  constants  which  lie 
beneath  our  perceptions  of  absence  and  presence  (our  perceptions  of  possibility  I.  One  could  characterize 
presence  as  extreme  complexity  and  absence  as  extreme  simplicity.  Tuttle's  new  works  bring  one  to  an 
understanding  that  these  characterizations  are  interchangeable.  This  is  a  felt  understanding  which  has 
the  power  to  dissociate  blankness  from  emptiness.19 

Similarly,  the  wire  pieces  are  trapped  in  the  process  of  change;  the  coiled  wire,  tracing  a  drawn  line, 
retains  a  ghost  of  its  original  form  as  it  is  released  from  the  wall.  It  is  as  though  the  memory  of  its  own 
history  had  been  incorporated  into  the  piece  at  the  moment  of  its  transformation  into  another  state. 
Because  memory  serves  as  a  bridge  between  periods  of  attention  and  states  of  change,  it  is  an 
important  aspect  of  Tuttle's  work,  both  intentional  and  not.  Some  of  the  key  functions  of  memory 
relevant  to  Tuttle's  work  are  those  of 

literal  recall  (which  makes  it  possible  to  have  present  again  the  operation  already  performed  without 
modifying  it )  and  summarized  recall  (which  makes  it  possible  to  have  present  again  the  operation  ahead) 
performed  in  abbreviated,  condensed  form).  .  .  .J" 

In  Ten  A'/Ws  of  Memory  and  Memory  Itself,  a  group  of  eleven  string  pieces  or  "drawings"  on  the 
floor.  Tuttle  has  choreographed  each  piece  so  that  the  work  can  be  recreated  by  repeating  the  movement 
patterns  which  dictate  how  the  string  is  to  be  placed  on  the  floor.  Each  group  of  movements,  resulting  in 
a  single  piece,  is  predicated  upon  the  dimensions  of  the  body,  so  that  Tuttle  might  begin,  for  instance,  by 
crouching  with  the  ball  of  string  in  his  right  hand,  then  bringing  it  around  behind  him,  transferring  it  to 
the  other  hand,  then  cutting  the  string  off  at  a  point  just  parallel  to  where  the  movement  began.  Other 
works  are  made  by  cutting  a  piece  of  string  approximately  one-third  as  large  as  the  span  between  the 
artist's  hands,  held  at  shoulder  width,  then  throwing  the  piece  in  a  loosely  curvilinear  fashion  to  one  side, 
cutting  a  slightlv  smaller  piece  and  throwing  thai  next  to  the  first,  and  so  on.  In  other  pieces,  siring  is  laid 
out  so  that  one  strand  lies  on  top  of  another;  then  their  positions  are  reversed  by  the  top  string's  being 
carefull)  threaded  underneath. 

In  (  )<  tobet  197").  Tuttle  and  nine  others,  tn\  self  among  them,  experimented  with  executing  the 
stung  pieces  by  following  his  "choreograph)  "  exactl)  .  Although  the  works  we  executed  differed  in  size 
and  in  quality,  those  that  were  best  were  clearly  those  that  were  least  self-conscious,  least  regular  and 
whose  lines  had  the  most  "character,"  in  addition  to  the  correct  proportions.  We  found  it  extremely 

First  installation  view.  Ten  Kinds  of  Memory  and  Memory  Itself.  1973.  String; 
most  pieces  fit  into  the  area  of  a  36"  circle.  Courtesy  of  Daniel  Weinberg 
Gallery.  San  Francisco,  and  Galerie  Yvon  Lambert,  Paris. 

i ; 

difficult  to  achieve  the  intense,  nervous,  but  quiet  feeling  of  Tuttle's  own  string  drawings.  Our  pieces 
were  like  body  pictographs  resulting  in  handwriting  of  a  very  personal  nature  that  involved  more  than 
just  the  arm  and  hand.  We  also  found  that  the  pieces  that  were  visually  the  simplest  were  often  the  most 
difficult  to  execute,  and  that  the  visual  "weight"  and  "brightness"  created  in  the  interstices  where  the 
strings  crossed  each  other  were  not  only  possible  to  see  when  attention  was  focused  on  them,  but  were  also 
essential  to  the  success  of  the  pieces. 

The  simplest,  rounded  semicircle  (the  "memory  itself  of  the  work's  title)  was,  according  to 
Tuttle,  taken  from  the  memory  of  a  dimension  (the  distance  between  two  parts)  of  an  earlier  wire 
sculpture.  This  kind  of  summarized  recall,  recreating  a  partial  aspect  of  another  work,  is  different  from 
the  literal  recall  called  into  use  in  making  the  other  ten  parts,  which  can  be  made  over  and  over  again 
almost  identically.  Tuttle  discussed  the  eleven-part  piece  as  a  way  of  solving  a  problem  he  had  set  up  in 
some  wire  sculptures  not  seen  in  this  exhibition;  they  are  a  large  group  of  works,  shown  at  Daniel 
Weinberg  Gallery,  San  Francisco,  in  1973.  The  problem,  as  he  saw  it,  was  that  once  he  had  executed  a 
wire  sculpture,  he  remembered  how  it  looked,  and  this  affected  the  work  the  next  time  it  was  redone.  The 
string  pieces  are  about  a  gestural  or  body  memory  rather  than  a  visual  memory;  how  the  pieces  look 
when  done  does  not  affect  them  when  redone.  Thus  their  "correct"  execution  is  more  a  matter  of  how  one 
feels  while  they  are  being  made.  In  the  wire/graphite/shadow  works,  however,  Tuttle  says  that  he  "tries 
to  get  into  an  area  where  memory  is  disposable.  I  try  to  execute  them  as  though  for  the  first  time,  every 

The  making  of  each  piece  is  involved  with  the  ambiguity  of  things  caught  in  a  state  of  change, 
and  with  change  itself— in  the  arbitrary  directional  placement  of  the  pieces,  in  the  perceptual  shifts 
occasioned  by  some  of  the  works,  reenactment  or  re-creation,  and  in  their  situational  flexibility.  Change 
cannot  be  considered  apart  from  the  temporal  dimension  because  change  is  transition  and  transition  is 
movement  in  time  as  well  as  space. 

Much  of  Tuttle's  work  also  has  to  do  with  gesture,  that  is,  the  piece  as  the  result  of  a  gestural 
process.  Even  where  this  is  not  so,  however,  as  in  The  Twenty-Six  Series  where  each  letter  exists  as  an  object, 
the  pieces  are  arranged  gesturally,  as  though  they  had  been  randomly  "thrown"  up  onto  the  wall.  It  is 
also  interesting  to  note  that  most  of  the  pieces  in  the  series  suggest  letters  of  the  alphabet  that  are  in 
varying  stages  of  physical  distortion  or  transformation.  Watching  Tuttle  install  The  Twenty-Six  Series  on 
the  floor  of  the  Gertrude  Vanderbilt  Whitney  Galleries  (third  installation)  was  instructive.  He  flung 
them  onto  the  floor,  and  after  they  had  all  been  scattered,  he  further  upset  any  intentional  order  or 
"artfulness"  in  their  arrangement  by  running  around  the  gallery  gently  kicking  the  pieces  into  a 
haphazard  configuration;  thus  their  ultimate  placement  is  a  result  of  movement. 

In  the  wire/graphite/shadow  drawings  especially,  the  execution  and  placement  of  the  pieces  is 
not  only  the  result  of  temporary  gesture,  but  is  temporal  in  feeling  as  well.  The  fleeting,  elusive  quality  of 
Tuttle's  work,  its  visual  "pace,"  is  particularly  apparent  in  the  6th  Wire  Bridge.  1971  (first  installation), 
where  the  three  pieces  of  wire  act  as  visual  velocities.  Time  can  only  be  plotted  as  length,  and  relative 
time  (i.e.,  shorter,  longer,  faster,  slower)  is  measurable  by  succession.  This  work  places  three  wire  lines  of 
increasing  lengths  loosely  parallel  to  each  other  on  the  wall.  Because  the  change  from  one  line  to  another 
is  so  readily  apparent  in  juxtaposition,  it  becomes  clear  that  the  temporality  of  the  piece  lies  in  an  area 

the  antipodes  of  the  hi i man  experience  ol  I  line,  (i.e.)  exact  repetition,  which  is  onerous,  and  unlet  tered 
variation,  which   is   chaotic. ...  Inventions,   which   are  commonly   ihoui>ht    to   mark   great    leaps   in 


development  and  to  be  extremely  rare  occurrences,  are  actually  one  with  the  humble  substance  of 
everyday  behavior,  whereby  we  exercise  the  freedom  to  vary  our  actions  a  little.-1 

Most  of  Tuttle's  works  exist  in  groups  or  in  open-ended  series,  in  which  each  of  the  works  varies 
subtlv— and  sometimes  blatantly— from  the  others;  moreover,  each  group  grows  out  of  one  or  more  works 
of  another  series.  This  is  why  grouping  a  cloth  octagonal,  a  paper  octagonal  and  a  wire  octagonal 
together  (first  installation),  or  a  rope  piece,  a  painted  wooden  work,  a  Block  and  a  Plack  (third 
installation),  is  a  more  accurate  way  of  seeing  Tuttle's  work  than  in  a  homogeneous  installation.  Tuttle 
has  used  various  materials  toward  similar  ends,  whereas  certain  of  the  wire  pieces,  when  compared  to 
each  other,  are  about  completely  different  issues  and  are  often  more  closely  related  to  pieces  in  another 
series,  from  another  period  of  his  career. 

The  gestural  quality  of  Tuttle's  work  and  the  swiftness  and  simplicity  of  execution  which  have 
led  him  to  refer  to  himself  as  a  "'hit  and  run  artist"  are  aspects  of  the  work's  relation  to  the  body  as  well  as 
to  temporality,  since  the  body  is  our  primary  metaphor  and  vehicle  for  being-in-the-world. 

Tuttle  describes  his  work,  from  time  to  time,  in  these  terms,  seeing  the  octagonals  as  being 
"about  skin,  while  the  alphabet,  the  Cincinnati  Pieces,  and  the  rope  and  wire  pieces  too  are  about  bone." 
One  could  take  this  analogy  one  step  further  and  say  that  the  wall  paintings  might  be  about  blood,  thus 
completing  the  cycle  of  the  body  as  object,  as  producer,  and  as  container.  In  a  less  metaphoric  sense,  the 
paper  and  cloth  octagonals  function  as  covering  membranes,  whereas  the  more  substantive  pieces  are 
structural  in  nature  and  suggest  a  skeletal  support  rather  than  a  surface.  The  "skeletal"  pieces  are, 
interestingly,  the  most  hermetic,  appearing  to  have  been  uncovered  or  exposed  inadvertently,  and  it  is 
perhaps  this  qualitv  that  endows  them  at  their  best  with  such  animate  qualities  as  poignancy  or 
tenderness,  without  any  accompanying  anthropomorphism  in  the  form  of  the  work  itself. 

Moreover,  the  sense  of  gravity,  of  body  orientation,  is  marked  in  Tuttle's  work.  The  plywood 
Slats,  for  example,  are  distinctly  vertical,  aligned  on  the  same  plane  as  the  standing  human  body,  yet  do 
not  become  a  metaphor  for  that  body.  Similarly,  the  Blocks,  placed  on  the  floor,  have  an  astonishing 
gravitational  pull,  and  create  an  Alice-in-VVonderland  sensation  of  our  own  miniaturization  and/or 
aggrandizement  in  their  viewing.  Even  the  wire  pieces,  as  Tuttle  himself  indicates,  are  subject  to  gravity. 
"They  got  longer  and  longer  and  seemed  to  want  to  touch  the  floor.  They  don't,  but  if  they  did  touch,  the 
place  where  they  met  the  floor  would  have  the  kind  of  brightness  or  intensitv  of  the  string  works,  where 
the  pieces  crossed." 

Body  awareness  is  heightened  not  only  by  the  strong  sense  of  gravity  in  these  pieces,  but  by  a 
focus  (in  equilibrium  that  is  especially  apparent  in  the  drawings;  most  of  them  are  concerned  with  issues 
ol  motion,  balance,  potential  and  actual  displacement,  or  (like  the  wire  drawings)  the  act  of  exploration 
which  the  body— especially  the  hand  as  a  primary  instrument  of  touch— is  engaged  in. 

In  the  large  pieces,  which  arc  so  dependent  upon  measurement  for  their  execution,  each 
measurement  is  taken  from  the  proportions  of  Tuttle's  own  body;  the  string  works  are  dictated  bv  the 
span  of  his  arms  or  the  width  of  his  torso.  The  Rome  Pieces  and  rope  works— in  fact,  most  of  the  wall 
pieces  in  general— are  situated  at  eye  level  or  at  a  specified  distance  relative  to  eye  level.  Balance  is 
similarly  an  intrinsic  aspei  t  ol  the  body,  balancing  upright  against  gravity,  for  instance,  or  using  the 
arms,  extended,  to  assess  different  weights  and  tensions;  the  third  installation  seemed  to  be  especially 
about  this  kind  ol  balance. " 

In  the  installation  of  the  cloth  octagonals,  the  tin  alphabet,  the  wire  drawings  and  the  string 
pieces.  Tuttle  readies  himself  as  a  dancer  would  for  the  activity  of  tnakin»  the  work  present  to  himself 
and  to  us.   That  so  much  of  Tuttle's  work  is  a  result  of  body  activity  is  partly  caused  by  the  fact  that 


physical  activity  is  the  most  direct  and  common  means  we  have  of  translating  interior  states  into  external 
expression;  in  a  very  direct  way,  frowning,  smiling,  closed  or  open  body  positions,  etc.,  are  our  primarv 
communicative  means,  because  they  are  experientially  rather  than  analytically  comprehensible.  Our 
own  experience  of  our  bodies  is  "pre-scientific,"  primitive  and  immediate.23 

In  the  mimeographed  handout  I  wrote  for  distribution  during  the  Tuttle  show,  I  indicated  that 
the  work  is  "felt"  rather  than  "understood,"  a  statement  which  was  criticized  as  being  equally  true  of 
other  art  as  well.  Certainly  feeling  and  understanding  cannot  be  separated  entirely  from  each  other,  but 
there  are  certain  works  which  require  thought  in  order  to  be  accessible  and  others  which  require 
experience,  and  these  are  not  necessarily  the  same.  This  distinction  is  in  a  sense  the  basis  for  dealing  with 
the  pure  conceptual  art  of  Kosuth,  for  instance,  as  opposed  to  the  sensuous,  ephemeral  and  unanah  tic- 
work  of  a  painter  like  Agnes  Martin.  In  examining  how  thought  itself  is  constituted,  differentiating 
between  thinking  and  perceiving  is  instructive;  the  former  involves  the  construction  of  an  ordered  world  of 
objects,  exact  and  stable  but  clumsily  bureaucratic  as  well,  whereas  perception  is  quicker  and  more 
flexible,  spontaneously  ingenious,  but  less  reliable  and  more  uncertain.  Moreover,  thought  has  to  be 
abstract,  ordered  into  categories  at  the  expense  of  finer  shades  of  meaning.  Thought  involves 
measurement  and  exactitude,  whereas  perception  is  more  fleeting. 

Some  objects  can  only  be  attained  through  thought,  as  for  instance  all  the  pure  constructs  of  science. 
These  objects  are  not  to  be  experienced.  Their  purpose  is  to  form  a  basis  for  thinking.  Other 
object-complexes  on  the  contrary,  are  nut  accessible  to  thought,  because  they  fall  apart  during  analysis,  and 
have  to  be  experienced  directly. ■'* 

The  distinctions  between  description  and  expression,  thinking  and  perceiving,  analyzing  and  ex- 
periencing are  classic  ones;  Tuttle's  work  is  based  upon  the  former  categories  of  each  pair  in  its 
conception,  while  its  execution  and  effect  are  concerned  with  the  latter. 

The  intensity  of  feeling  in  the  experience  of  Tuttle's  work,  as  opposed  to  a  precise  logical 
understanding  of  it,  is  partly  responsible  for  the  critical  description  of  the  work  as  childlike  and/or 
primitive.  Tuttle  himself  once  wrote,  "I  would  really  like  to  be  ignorant."25 

This  statement  can  be  understood  in  several  ways,  but  the  possibility  of  making  art  which  is,  in 
Tuttle's  words,  "purely  motivated,"  that  is,  a  direct  translation  of  internal  states,  is  one  valid 
interpretation.  Another  interpretation  may  be  linked  to  Tuttle's  insistence  on  "investigation"  in  his 
work,  so  that  the  hand,  for  instance,  does  not  translate  what  it  already  knows  onto  the  wall,  but  discovers 
what  it  knows  in  the  moment  of  execution.  In  this  way,  each  piece  can  be  remade  as  if  for  the  first  time. 
Similarly,  three  near-identical  drawings  will  seem  entirely  different,  microscopic  adjustments  becoming 
apparent  to  the  viewer  not  in  a  visually  measurable  way,  but  by  means  of  a  perceptual  and  emotional 
(i.e.,  experiential)  shift;  thus  none  of  the  three  "identical"  drawings  are,  in  fact,  the  same. 

The  act  of  seeking,  of  investigation,  causes  a  tremulous,  tentative,  vulnerable  line  to  emerge 
from  the  gesture  of  the  hand  and  arm;  this  childlike  quality  in  the  line  is  characteristic  of  Tuttle's  graphic 
work.  Moreover,  the  self-referential  quality  of  Tuttle's  work,  its  simplicity  in  terms  of  "thingness." 
resembles  those  forms  made  by  children  at  an  early  stage  in  the  development  of  their  ability  to 

I  he  first  draw  n  "rounding"  surely  results  from  t  lie  movements  of  the  hand  and  the  arm.  .  .  .  For  the  child, 
"thingness"  is  perfectly  represented  by  the  rounding,  because  the  child  primarily  intends  the  general 
enclosed  character  ol  things.  The  circle  not  only  represents  this  quality  because  of  its  concentrated  shape, 
but  also  because  the  surface  inside  a  contoui  seems  more  dense  than  its  surroundings.26 

The  densit)  of  Tuttle's  configurations,  especially  the  early  wooden  ones,  their  mat  building- block  color. 


their  casualness  and  simplicity  of  facture,  their  tactility  are  responsible  for  the  innocent,  childlike  quality 
they  afford;  nothing,  evidently,  could  be  more  enigmatic  than  simplicity. 

Robert  Pincus-Witten  noted  the  "infant-like  thrust"  of  the  1964  paper  cubes  and  remarked  that 
the  wood  reliefs  resembled  "the  elements  of  a  child's  fitted  jigsaw  puzzle— large,  squat,  simplified 
shapes."-7  At  that  point  in  Tuttle's  work— that  is,  up  to  and  including  The  Twenty-Six  Series  ( 1967)  or  "tin 
alphabet"— this  childlike  quality  is  especially  marked. In  fact, although  the  naturalistic,  animistic  aspects 
of  this  work  separate  it  from  work  which  was  to  follow,  these  are  also  aspects  of  a  child's  perception  of 
causal  relations,  according  to  psychologists.  Therefore,  for  the  child,  "material  objects,  living  or  not,  are 
regarded  as  having  an  animal  spirit  that  makes  them  behave  as  they  do";  similarly,  "  'artijicialism,' 
according  to  which  all  events  are  regulated  by  some  humanlike  entity,"  and  naturalism,  which  is  "the 
acceptance  of  impersonal  natural  forces  as  the  governing  agent  in  many  events" '"  are  part  of  a  child's 
perception  of  the  world  until  a  certain  age.  The  animate  quality  in  Tuttle's  earlv  work,  the  feeling  that 
the  pieces  are  informed  by  a  kind  of  personality  of  their  own,  and  Tuttle's  own  somewhat  fatalistic 
attitude  about  the  work,  as  though  it  had  a  will  and  life  of  its  own,  seem  to  substantiate  the  analogy.  "I 
am  not  responsible  for  my  work."  he  has  said.  However,  this  animism  or  naturalism  does  not  render  the 
work  anthropomorphic;  it  still  does  not  resemble,  as  work,  anything  but  itself,  although  it  is  informed  by 
a  spirit  of  its  own.  Even  the  pictorialism  of  Hill,  Fire,  Fountain,  Flower  and  other  1965  pieces  has  more  to  do 
with  Tuttle's  expressed  intent,  via  the  titles  he  gave  to  the  pieces,  than  with  their  resemblance  to  those 
actual  objects  or  events. 

What  is  childlike  is  often  equated  with  what  is  primitive,  and  in  fact  the  pictographic  or 
ideogrammatic  aspect  of  these  pieces  resembles  hieroglyphics,  but  not  those  of  Egypt  or  other  classical 
civilizations.  There  is,  for  example,  a  little-known  pictorial  symbol-language  in  use  in  the  eastern 
provinces  of  southern  Nigeria  called  nsibidi,  which  differs  from  hieroglyphics  in  that  it  contains  no  trace 
of  an  alphabet.2"  The  linear  signs  resemble  the  shapes  found  in  Tuttle's  work,  especially  the  drawings  and 
the  wire  pieces.  Other  aspects  of  nsibidi  resemble  Tuttle's  work,  for  instance  the  fact  that  there  is  no  order 
of  writing,  that  a  sign  may  be  horizontal,  vertical  or  oblique  according  to  the  preference  of  the  writer, 
that  the  same  thing  can  be  expressed  by  different  signs  (so  that  many  acts  or  states  of  mind  are 
represented  by  one  sign  representing  men,  for  instance),  or  even  that  the  same  sign  can  stand  for  different 
things.  The  interest  here  lies  not  in  any  direct  connection  between  this  primitive  language  and  Tuttle's 
configurations,  but  in  the  quality  of  the  pictorial  language  which,  in  its  directness,  simplicity,  and 
interchangeable  aspects  is  analogous  to  Tuttle's  use  of  forms  in  series  and  groupings.3"  This  is  perhaps 
another  reason  why,  each  time  a  piece  is  remade  by  Tuttle  in  a  different  context  or  environment,  its 
meaning  alters  slightly,  and  it  becomes,  in  effect,  a  new  piece. 

Language  of  any  kind,  of  course,  is  a  system  of  symbols  and  the  language  of  visual  arts  is  an 
especially  complex  symbol-system.  For  the  most  part,  verbal  and  written  language  has  been  the  main 
subject  matter  of  semiotics  (i.e.,  a  language  used  to  talk  about  signs,  and  to  understand  the  rules  for  the 
use  of  signs),  but  investigation  into  other  aspects  of  signs,  such  as  diagrams  and  pictorial  images,  has 
become  intensified  in  recent  years.31  One  purpose  of  signs  is  "to  describe  experiences  or  objects";'-'  if  we 
consider  the  ephemeral  objects  created  by  Tuttle  to  be  visual  signs  this  reinforces  the  idea  of  their  facture 
as  the  result  of  a  translation  of  interior  states  to  exterior  ones. 

One  reason,  perhaps,  for  the  attendant  confusion  about  Tuttle's  work  has  to  do  with  the  fact 
that  the  use  of  signs  invokes  a  system  of  expectations.  According  to  information  theory,  if  our 
expectation  about  a  siyn  is  completely  accurate,  we  don't  sjet  any  new  information  from  it  because  we 
know  in  advance  what  is  going  to  happen.  Orr  the  other  hand,  if  the  sign  has  no  probability  at  all,  the 
message  becomes  meaningless.    The  "value"  of  a  work  of  art.  therefore,  depends  on  a  balance  in  the 


degree  of  new  as  opposed  to  old  information  provided;  it  must  be  familiar  enough  to  be  recognized  as  a 
work  of  art,  but  not  so  familiar  as  to  be  mundane  and  therefore  indistinguishable  from  the  objects  of 
everyday  experience. 

Although  an  appreciation  of  Tuttle's  work  depends  upon  a  kind  of  perceptual  acuity,  and 
requires  us  to  focus  our  attention  on  the  act  of  seeing,  as  well  as  on  what  we  are  seeing,  the  results  of  this 
visual  alteration  are  startling  and  often  moving. 

Looking  at  Tuttle's  work  is  like  reading  a  friend's  diary;  the  work  is  full  of  secrets  hidden  among 
the  facts.  There  are  encounters  with  known  and  unknown  aspects  of  another  personality,  glimpses  of  a 
shared  world  seen  through  another's  eyes,  moments  of  humor,  wit  and  irony,  intentional  and  not.  One 
feels,  looking  at  Tuttle's  work,  that  we  have  stumbled  onto  a  private  place.  Some  of  the  visual  events  in 
this  place  are  strange  and  eccentric,  some  are  sensuous,  and  some  are  too  hermetic  to  be  understood. 
There  is  always,  in  the  work,  a  sense  of  integrity  in  the  translation  of  interior  states  of  being  to  exterior 
events;  Tuttle  is  not  afraid  to  contradict  himself,  to  be  vulnerable,  or  occasionally  to  fail.  What  is  most 
beautiful  and  moving  about  Tuttle's  work  is  that  moment  when,  in  dialogue  with  it,  we  are  able  to 
recognize  ourselves. 

Marcia  Tucker 


1.  All  quotes,  unless  otherwise  indicated,  are  taken  from 
conversations  with  the  author  in  the  summer  and  fall  of 

_'  ( christian  Norberg-Schulz,  Intentions  in  Architecture,  (Cam- 
bridge, Mass.:  The  M.I.T.  Press,  1965),  p.  72. 

i.  Robert  Pincus-VVitten,  "The  Art  of  Richard  Tuttle," 
Artforum,  vol.  8  (February  1970),  p.  65. 

1  Robert  M.  Murdock,  Introduction,  Richard  Tuttle 
(Dallas:  Dallas  Museum  of  Fine  Arts,  1971),  n.p. 

■  I  )orothy  Alexander,  "Conversations  with  the  Work  and 
the  Artist,"  Mel  Bochner,  Barry  Le  Va,  Dorothea  Rockbume, 
Richard  Tuttle  (Cincinnati:  Contemporary  Arts  ('enter. 
1975),  p.  42. 

6.  Nancy  Foote  in  "Review  of  Exhibitions,"  \rt  in  America, 
sol.  62  (May/June  1971).  p.  102. 

7.  David  Bourdon,  "Playing  Hide  and  Seek  in  the  VVhit- 
ney,"  The  Villagi  Voice,  vol.  20  (September  29,  1975),  p. 

H.  Quoted  in  Murdock,  Richard  Tuttle,  n.p. 

')  'Mel  Uochner.  Iiarr\  I.e  Va,  Dorothea  Rockbume, 
Richard  Tuttle,''  Contcmpoiaiv  Ails  Center.  Cincin- 
nati, Ohio,  January  H  February  16,  1975. 

10  John  Perreault,  "Tuttle's  Subtle  Output,"  Soho  Wtekly 

\,,,  ■,   Septembei  I!!.  1975,  p.  22. 

11  Bourdon,  "Playing  Hide  and  Seek  in  the  Whitney,"  p 

12  Selvio  Ceccato  The  Mind,  Thought  and  Language," 
Scienci  and  Literaturt  V«i  Lenses  for  Criticism,  Edward  \l 
Jennings,  ed.  (New  Vmk    Anchoi  Books,  1970),  p    107 

13.  Ibid.,  p.  114. 

14.  Carter  Ratcliff  in  "New  York  Letter,"  Art  International, 

vol.  14  (May  20,  1970),  p.  76. 

15.  Susan  Heinemann  in  "Reviews."  Ail/mum.  vol.  12  (June 
1974),  p.  75. 

16.  Ceccato,  "The  Mind,  Thought  and  Language."  p.   112. 

17.  Ibid.,  p.  113. 

18.  Ibid.,  pp.  119-20. 

19.  Carter  Ratcliff  in  "New  York  Letter."  Art  International, 
vol.  14  (May  20,  1970).  p.  76. 

20.  Ceccato,  "The  Mind,  Thought  and  Language.''  p.   120. 

21.  George  Kubler,  Thi  Shape  of  Time  (New  Haven,  Conn., 
and  London:  Yale  University  Press.  1962),  p   6  I 

22.  Donald  G.  Macrae,  "The  Body  and  Social  Metaphor," 
The  Body  as  a  Medium  q)  Expn  fsion,  Jonathan  Benthall  and 
Ted  Polhemus,  ed,  (New  York:  LP.  Dutton  &  Co., 
1975),  p.  61. 

23.  Ibid.,  p.  67. 

24.  Norberg-Schulz,  Intentions  in  Architecture,  p,  62. 

25.  Hermann  Kern,  Richard  Tultlt  Das  II  Papierachleck  und 
Wandmalerein  [Richard  Tuttle  The  llih  Papei  Octagonal  and 
Paintings  for  thi  Wall],  (Munich:  Kunstraum,  1973),  p.  8. 

26.  Norberg-Schulz,  Intentions  in  Architecture,  p    76 

27.  Roberl   Pincus-Witten,  "The  An  ol   Richard    I  utile." 

\rforum,  vol  8  (February  1970),  p  6  i 


28.  L.   Joseph    Stone   and  Joseph    Church.    Childhood  and 

[dolescenct   (New  York:   Random  House.   1957).  p.    183. 

29.  Rev.  J.K.  Macgregor,  B.D.,  "Some  Notes  on  Nsibidi," 
Journal  oj  tin  Anthropological  Institute,  vol.  39  (1909),  pp. 


30.  Incidentally,  the  word  nsibidi  comes  from  the  Ibo  word 
ribidi,  which  means  to  play:  to  play  has,  according  to 
Macgregor.  a  wider  use  in  the  native  language  than  in 

It  stands  for  all  the  shades  of  meaning  from  sport 
to  drama.  Because  the  dramas,  as  we  may  call  the 
native  dances,  are  religious,  it  has  also  a  sense  of  to 
bewitch.  Because  the  beat  of  the  heart  is  regular 
as  the  beat  of  the  drum,  it  is  also  applied  to  the 
beating  of  the  heart.  (Macgregor.  "Some  Notes  on 
Nsibidi,"  p.  210.) 

I  do  not  wish  to  can\  the  analog)  too  fai  but  only  to 
point  out  that  the  playful,  witty  or  ironic  quality  in 
Tuttle's  work,  and  especially  in  the  196  1  67  pieces,  has  to 
do  with  the  fact  thai  the  works  like  The  Twenty-Six  Serit  i 
can  be  arranged  at  whim  and  in  an)  l<><  al  ion  or  direction, 
i.e.,  horizontal  or  vert ii  al.  on  the  Horn  oi  walls  Similar  l\ . 
the  physical  aspects  of  Tuttle's  works,  their  existence  and 
pla<  ement  as  a  result  of  gesture,  or  their  re-creai  ion  i  as  in 
the  string  pieces)  by  means  of  an  elaborate  choreography, 
share  the  aspect  of  dance/drama/sign  with  that  of  the 
primitive  pictographic  language.  My  thanks  to  Betty 
Collings,  Director  of  the  Gallery  at  Ohio  State  Universi- 
ty for  having  brought  Macgregor's  article  to  my  atten- 

31.  Norberg-Schulz.  Intentions  in  An  Inlet  line.  p.  60. 

32.  Ibid. 

Renderings  ol  various  nsibidi  figures  by  Katherine  Sokolnikoff  fro 
illustrations  in  Rev.  J.K.  Macgregor's  article  (sec  inn    29  and  30). 


September  12,  1975 

"To  make  something  which  looks  like  itself  is... the  problem, 
the  solution."  Richard  Tuttle,  1972 

This  exhibition  of  work  by  Richard  Tuttle  had  its 
genesis  almost  three  years  ago.   At  that  time,  Tuttle 's 
work  produced  a  sense  of  tension  and  bewilderment •  The  more 
I  looked  at  it  (and  there  was  not  a  great  deal  of  his  work 
to  be  seen  publicly  at  any  one  time)  the  more  it  resisted 
interpretation,  and  the  more  elusive  and  ephemeral—materially 
and  conceptually--it  seemed. 

I  have  always  considered  that  there  are  two  basic 
reasons  for  doing  an  exhibition;  the  first  is  to  illustrate 
and  share  with  the  public  something  one  has  discovered, 
that  is,  something  already  known.   The  second  is  to  discover 
or  explore  something  which  is  unknown  in  order  to  find  out 
for  yourself  what  it  is  about.   One  is  the  mode  of  the 
historian,  the  other  the  mode  of  the  explorer.   Both  are 
equally  valid.   Different  kinds  of  work  at  different  times 
dictate  which  of  the  two  attitudes  underlies  a  specific 
exhibition . 

With  this  exhibition  it  is  a  case  of  exploring 
the  unknown.   Tuttle' s  work  is  most  immediately  and  clearly 
perceived  on  an  intuitive,  physical,  experiential  level; 
it  is  "felt"  rather  than  "understood,"  and  lends  itself 
to  a  powerful,  often  transcendental  physical  assimilation 
rather  than  to  verbal  analysis.   For  this  reason,  at  the 
time  the  exhibition  was  initially  planned,  I  decided  to 
attempt  a  reversal  of  the  traditional  exhibition  procedures. 

Generally,  works  are  requested  from  lenders  well 
in  advance  of  the  opening  date  of  an  exhibition;  the 
availability  of  works  will  often  determine  the  scope  of 
the  show.   A  catalogue  is  written  months  in  advance  in 
order  to  have  a  critical  text,  photographs,  biography, 
bibliography  and  checklist  available  to  the  public  on 
the  exhibition's  opening  date.   Often  the  author  of  the 
critical  text  depends  upon  reproductions  of  previously 
unseen  works,  which  are  coming  from  abroad,  for  example, 
or  have  been  housed  in  private  collections  in  remote  areas 
of  the  country,  or  which  even  no  longer  exist  and  must  be 
remade  by  the  artist  for  the  exhibition. 

The  impact,  and  indeed  the  meaning  of  Tuttle 's 
work  is  dependent  upon  actual  contact  with  it,  even  more  than 
the  work  of  other  artists.   His  pieces  are  unobtrusive, 
materially  simple  or  modest,  and,  like  the  paper  octagons 
of  1969,  occasionally  visible  only  at  second  glance;  many 
of  the  details  of  his  work,  such  as  the  white  painted 
edges  of  the  1974  plywood  slat  pieces,  cannot  be  seen  at  all 
in  reproduction,  and  are  sometimes  missed  entirely  by  the 
viewer  even  in  direct  confrontation.   For  this  reason, 

Page  2 

I  decided  to  begin  writing  the  exhibition  catalogue  after 
the  show  opens.   In  this  way,  my  evaluation  of  Tuttle's 
work  will  depend  only  on  works  I  have  actually  seen  and 
handled,  or  works  which,  during  the  week  of  installation, 
I  will  have  had  the  opportunity  to  watch  Tuttle  himself 
execute . 

Tuttle  has  often  said  that,  given  a  specific 
space,  there  may  only  be  one  work  which  seems  "right" 
for  it.   Because  his  work  is  so  dependent  upon  the  space  in 
which  it  is  installed  or  executed,  many  pieces  will  only 
be  borrowed  at  the  last  minute  as  the  space  requires 
them.   Only  a  very  few  works  have  been  requested  in  advance, 
and  this  is  because  they  seem  unequivocally  essential  to  an 
understanding  of  the  body  of  his  work  in  general.   The 
rest  of  the  pieces,  thanks  to  the  generosity  and  flexibility 
of  the  lenders,  will  have  been  gathered  by  us  at  the 
eleventh  hour. 

Other  deviations  from  the  normal  exhibition 
procedure  have  also  been  made.   Generally  work  is  installed 
and  remains  unchanged  for  the  duration  of  the  exhibition. 
In  the  present  instance,  because  it  is  difficult  to  see 
Tuttle's  work  when  it  is  crowded  together,  we  have  favored 
a  sparse  installation  which  facilitates  seeing  the  individual 
pieces;  for  this  reason,  as  well  as  because  so  little  is 
known  of  Tuttle's  work,  the  works  within  each  of  several 
groups  (i.e.  paper  octagons,  wire  pieces,  slat  pieces)  will 
be  changed  at  two-week  intervals  throughout  the  duration 
of  the  show.   Thus  those  interested  in  seeing  more  pieces 
than  could  be  installed  without  disrupting  their  individuality 
can  return  to  the  Museum  after  each  installation. 

Tuttle  must  re-execute  the  works  in  each  series 
himself;  as  he  does  so,  I  will  make  a  new  selection  of 
drawings,  which  have  been  mounted  in  frames  specially  designed 
by  the  artist   to  facilitate  changing  the  works  inside  them. 
It  is  my  hope  that  the  groupings  of  drawings  will  serve  to 
illuminate  the  range  of  Tuttle's  inventiveness  and  perception, 
as  well  as  to  clarify  some  of  the  issues  contained  in  his 
other  work.   The  installation  changes  will  occur  on  Tuesday, 
October  7  and  Tuesday,  November  4,  1975. 

Some  of  the  qualities  in  Tuttle's  work  that  first 
provoked  my  attention,  and  which  have  held  it  since,  are 
personal;  there  is  a  purity  and  an  integrity  to  these  pieces 
that  places  them,  at  least  in  the  immediate  sense,  outside 
comparison  with  work  being  done  by  other  artists  at  present. 
They  are  curiously  poetic,  childlike  and  tender.   They  are 
unequivocal  yet  adaptable,  unpretentious  yet  commanding. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  formal  aspects  of  Tuttle's  work  are 
equally  fascinating;  the  work  resists  categorization,  being 


Page  3 
neither  painting  nor  sculpture.   It  is  intellectually  as 
provocative  as  it  is  elusive,  as  conceptually  strong  as  it 
is  materially  self-sufficient.   Tuttle  makes  work  which  is 
direct,  simple,  physically  unassuming,  yet  peculiarly  moving. 

These  are  only  a  few  of  the  reasons  for  my  desire 
to  know  the  work  as  intimately  as  possible  and  to  allow  it 
to  influence  me  directly  before  attempting  to  explicate  it. 
By  organizing  the  exhibition  in  this  manner,  I  hope  to  convey 
the  excitement  of  direct  experience,  analogous  to  that  of  a 
visit  to  the  artist's  studio,  where  the  confrontation  between 
the  viewer  and  the  work  is  most  immediate,  provocative, 
difficult  and  rewarding. 

Marcia  Tucker 

Richard  Tuttle  was  born  in  Rahway ,  New  Jersey,  in 
1941;  he  studied  at  Trinity  College  and  Cooper  Union.   Major 
solo  exhibitions  include : 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York,  1965,  1967,  1968, 

1970,  1972,  1974 

Galerie  Schmela,  Dusseldorf,  Germany,  1968 

Nicholas  Wilder  Gallery,  Los  Angeles,  1969 

Albright-Knox  Art  Gallery,  Buffalo,  1970 

Galerie  Zwirner,  Cologne,  Germany,  1970,  1974 

Dallas  Museum  of  Fine  Arts,  1971 

Galerie  Lambert,  Paris,  France,  1972,  1974 

The  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  New  York,  1972 

Die  Freunde  der  Bildenden  Kunst  Kunstraum,  Munich,  1973 

Galerie  Heiner  Friedrich,  Munich,  1973 

Galleria  Francoise  Lambert,  Milan,  1973 

Daniel  Weinberg  Gallery,  San  Francisco,  1973 

Clocktower,  New  York,  1973 

Galleria  Toselli,  Milan,  1974 

Galleria  Marilena  Bonomo ,  Bari,  Italy,  1974 

Barbara  Cusack  Gallery,  Houston,  1974 

Nigel  Greenwood  Gallery,  London,  1974 

Parsons-Truman  Gallery,  New  York,  1975 



Main  galleries      12' 10" 
Auditorium.  12'  10V' 

Whitney  Galleries      IVUV' 

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All  dimensions  are  in  inches,  height  preceding  width  pret  eding  depth.  In  instant  es  where 
exact  measurements  wen  not  possible,  the  artist  made  estimates  qj  size. 


First  installation  view,  left  to  right:  9th  Paintingfor  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic,  7  x 
2".  Collection  of  the  artist.  1 0th  Cloth  Octagonal.  1968.  Dyed  cloth,  54". 
Collection  of  Dr.  Ruprecht  Zwirner,  Braunlingen,  Germany.  The  Twenty-Six 
Series.  1967.  Soldered  metal,  each  piece  approximately  6-10".  Collection  of 
Jost  Herbig,  Abholfach,  Germany. 

First  installation  view,  left  to  right:  Shadow.  1965.  Painted  wood,  47  x  22". 
Collection  of  Robert  Feldman,  New  York.  3rd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and 
paint,  36  x  5  x  'A".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York.  3rd  Rope  Piece. 
1974.  Rope  and  nails,  lA  x  3".  Collection  of  the  artist.  9th  Painting  for  the  Wall. 
1970.  Acrylic,  7  x  2".  Collection  of  the  artist,  /oth  Cloth  Octagonal.  1968.  Dyed 
cloth,  54".  Collection  of  Dr.  Ruprccht  Zwirner,  Braunlingen,  Germany.  8th 
Cincinnati  Piece.  1975.  Painted  wood,  5  x  10".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


First  installation  view,  left  to  right:  Yellow  Dancer.  1965.  Painted  plywood,  53 
x  37".  Collection  of  Judge  and  Mrs.  Peter  B.  Spivak,  Grosse  Pointe, 
Michigan.  First  Green  Octagonal.  1967.  Dyed  cloth,  54  x  22".  Collection  of  Jock 
Truman,  New  York.  6th  Wire  Piece.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails,  39  x  26". 
Collection  of  the  artist.  The  Voices.  1966.  Painted  wood,  29  x  13'/2  x  3V2". 
Collection  of  Bettv  Parsons,  New  York. 

First  installation  view,  left  to  right:  8th  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint, 
36  x  3".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York.  3rd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood 
and  paint,  36  x  5  x  lA".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York.  9th  Painting  for 
the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic,  7  x  2".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

View  of  first  installation  in  Gertrude  Yanderbilt  Whitney  Gallery.  Fore- 
ground: Paper  Cubes.  1963.  Paper,  each  3x  3  x  3".  Collection  of  Betty  Parsons, 
New  York.  Walls:  Drawings.  1964-7.r).  Distant  wall:  Ash  Wirinisday.  1965. 
Painted  plywood,  21  x  40".  Collection  of  Norman  P.  Joondeph,  New  York. 


6th  Wire  Piece.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails,  39  x  26".  Collection  of  the        20th  Wire  Piece.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails.  23  x  26".  Collection  of 
artist.  *he  artist- 


I6th   Rome  Piece.    1975.   Pencil  and   paper,    1"  equilateral   triangle. 
Collection  of  the  artist. 

\rd  Ropi  Piect    1974.  Rope  and  nails,  Vi  x  3".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



■:     17 


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Paper  Cubes.  1964.  Paper,  each  3  x  3  x  3".  Collection  of 
Betty  Parsons,  New  York. 


The   Voices.    1966.  Painted  wood,  29  x    13'/2  x  3'/2". 
Collection  of  Betty  Parsons,  New  York. 


Grey  Extended  Seven.  1967.  Dyed  cloth,  39  x  59".  Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York;  Gift  of 
the  Simon  Foundation  and  the  National  Endowment  for  the  Arts. 


3rd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint,  3  x  5  x  V2".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York. 



ildered  metal,  each  piece  approximately  6   10"  Collection  of  Josl  Herbig,  Abholfach,  Germany. 

1    B  *=1    :  :  :  * 


Second  installation  view,  left  to  right:  1st  Cincinnati  Piece.  1975.  Painted  wood,  5  x  14".  Collection  of  the 
artist.  1st  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood,  24  x  24  x  2".  Collection  of  the  artist.  2nd  Summer  Wood  Piece. 
1974.  Wood  and  rope,  10  x  24  x  5'/2".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


Second  installation  view,  left  to  right:  Yellow  Dancer.  1965.  Painted  plywood,  53  x  SI".  Collection  of 
Judge  and  Mrs.  Peter  B.  Spivak,  Crosse  Pointe,  Michigan.  .1  \h  Wednesday.  1965.  Painted  plywood,  21  x 
40".  Collection  of  Norman  P.  Joondeph,  New  York.  8th  Painting  foi  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic,  24  x  24". 
Collection  of  the  artist.  2nd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint,  24  x  12".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman, 
New  York. 




Second  installation  view,  left  to  right:  2nd  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood  and  rope,  10  x  24  x  5W. 
Collection  of  the  artist.  3rd  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood,  24  x  24  x  5V6".  Collection  of  the  artist.  The 
Twenty-Six  Series.  1967.  Soldered  metal,  each  piece  approximately  6-10".  Collection  of  Jost  Herbig, 
Abholfach,  Germany.  2nd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint,  24  x  12".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman, 
New  York. 

Second  installation  view,  left  to  right:  3rd  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood,  10  x  24  x  5'/2".  Collection  of 
the  artist.  4th  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Cloth,  wood  and  staples,  30  x  20  x  1".  Collection  of  the  artist. 
2nd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint,  24  x  12".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York. 


Second  installation  view,  Gertrude  Vanderbilt  Whitney  Gallery.  Clockwise, 
beginning  at  left:  First  Green  Octagonal.  1967.  Dyed  cloth,  approximately  54  x 
22".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York.  Grey  Extended  Seven.  1967.  Dyed 
cloth,  39  x  59".  Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York;  Gift  of  the 
Simon  Foundation  and  the  National  Endowment  for  the  Arts.  10th  Cloth 
Octagonal.  1968.  Dyed  cloth,  approximately  54".  Collection  of  Dr.  Ruprecht 
Zwirner,  Braunlingen,  Germany.  Untitled.  1967.  Dyed  cloth,  approximately 
38".  Collection  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ronald  K.  Greenberg,  St.  Louis,  Missouri. 


Hth  Painting  /or  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic,  24  x  24".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



hi  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood,  24  x  24  x  2".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


2nd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint,  24  x  12".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York. 



3rd  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood,  24  x  24  x  5".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


2nd  Summer  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Wood  and  rope,  10  x  24  x  5'/2".  Collection  of  the 

Iih  Summei  Wood  Piece.  1974.  Cloth,  wood  and  staples,  30  x  20  x 
1".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


1st  Colored  Triangle.  1974.  Painted  wood,  7  x  H  x  9".  Collection  of  Lorenzo  and  Marilena  Bonomo,  Bari,  Italy. 


2ndCo/or,rl  Triangle.  1974.  Canned  wood,  8  x  8  x  8".  Collection  of  Lorenzo  and  Marilena  Bronomo,  Bari    It 



10th  Rope  Piece.  1974.  Rope  and  nail,  lA  x  1".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

Hth  Houston  Work.  1975.  Wood  and  paper,  lA  x  %".  Collection  of 
the  artist. 


1st  Cincinnati  Piece.  1975.  Painted  wood.  5  x  14".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


1st  Wire  Bridge.  1971.  Wire  and  nails,  approximate!)   10  x  10".  Collection  of  the  artisl 


Left:  7th  Paper  Octagonal.  1970.  Paper,  approximately  54". 
Collection  of  the  artist.  Right:  8th  Paper  Octagonal.  1970.  Paper, 
approximately  54".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



th  Wire  Piece.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails,  23  x  26".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



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Third  installation  view,  left  to  right:  9th  Plack.  1973.  Homasote.  4  x  9". 
Collection  of  the  artist.  3rd  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint.  36  x  5  x  lA". 
Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York.  9th  Houston  Work.  1975.  Wood  and 
felt-tip  marker,  h  x  V.  Collection  of  the  artist.  Yellow  Dancer.  1965.  Painted 
plywood,  53  x  37".  Collection  of  Judge  and  Mrs.  Peter  B.  Spivak,  Grosse 
Pointe.  Michigan. 

Third  installation  view,  left  to  right:  First  Green  Octagonal.  1965.  Dyed 
cloth,  approximately  54  x  22".  Collection  of  Jock  Truman,  New  York. 
I  'ntitled.  1967.  Dyed  cloth,  approximately  38".  Collection  of  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Ronald  K.  Greenberg,  St.  Louis,  Missouri.  Grey  Extended  Seven.  1967.  Dyed 
cloth,  39  x  59".  Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York;  Gift  of  the 
Simon  Foundation  and  the  National  Endowment  for  the  Arts. 


Third  installation  view,  left  to  right:  •////  Paintingfoi  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic, 
I8x  18".  Collection  of  the  artist.  1st  Rope  Piece.  1974.  Rope  and  nails,  Vi  x  6". 
Collection  of  the  artist.  Ash  Wednesday.  1965.  Painted  plywood,  21  x  40". 
Collection  of  Norman  P.  Joondeph,  New  York.  9th  Hind..  lc)7:5.  Painted 
wood;  4  x  r)  x  2",  placed  4"  from  the  wall.  Collection  of  the  artist.  7th  Wood 
Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint;  36  X  8",  placed  1"  from  the  floor.  Collection  of 
Jock  Truman,  New  York. 


Third  installation  view  of  The  Twenty-Six  Series.  1967.  Soldered  metal,  each 
piece  approximately  6-10".  Collection  ofjost  Herbig.  Abholfach,  Germany. 


////  Painting  for  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic,  18  x  18".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


7th  Wire  Pint.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails,  'Mi  \  21".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

OPI'OSIll      I'll. Ml 

I  frd  Win  Piece.  1972.  Pencil,  wire  and  nails,  35  x  18".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



9th  Houston   Work.    1975.  Wood  and  felt-tip  marker,  %  x  lA". 
Collection  of  the  artist. 


7th  Wood  Slat.  1974.  Plywood  and  paint;  36x8",  placed  l'imm 

the  floor.  Collection  of  Jock   Truman,  New  York 

6th   Plack.    1973.    Painted    homasote,   6    x    8    x    W 
Collection  of  the  artist. 


9th  Plack.   1973.  Homasote,  4  x  9".  Collection  of  the  artist. 



Hlh  Block.  1973.  Painted  wood;  4  x  5  x  2",  placed  4"  from  the 
wall.  Collection  of  the  artist. 


9th  Block.  1973.  Painted  wood;  4  x  5  x  2",  placed  4"  from  the 
wall.  Collection  of  the  artist. 


10th  Block.  1973.  Painted  wood;  4  x  7  x  2",  placed  5"  from  the 
wall.  Collection  of  the  artist. 


5th  Wire  Octagonal.  1971.  Wire  and  nails,  approximately  54".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

/////  Papei  Octagonal.  1970.  Paper,  approximately  54".  Collection  of  A.  Baldessari,  Bari,  Italy. 


Chair.    1965.  Ink,  pencil  and  chalk.    II    x    10".  Collection  of  Jost 
Herbig,  Abholfach,  German) 


Sirakus.   1974.  Ink  painted  on  paper,  14  x  11".  Whitney  Museum  of         Orange  Plot.   1974.  Ink  and  felt-tip  pen  on  paper,  14  x  11".  Whitney 
American  Art,  New  York;  Albert  A.  List  Fund.  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York;  Albert  A.  List  Fund. 


Drawing  for  cloth   piece.    1967.   Watercolor  on   bond,133/4  x 
Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel,  New  York. 

11".  Broken  line  drawing.  1974.  Pencil  on  air-mail  writing 
paper,  9  x  6".  Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel. 
New  York. 


French  Hotel  Drawing  I.  1973.  Graphite  on  bond,  1 1  x 
8'/2".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

••"".•  \V 

Ntghl.  1972.  White  ink  on  black  construction  paper,  9  x  12' 
Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel,  New  York. 

Rendering  for  12th  spiral  drawing.  197:5.  Black  India  ink  on  bond,  14 
x  1 1".  Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel,  New  York, 

I  ntilled.  1973.  Graphite  on  bond,  14  x  11".  Collection  of  the  artist. 


Horizontal  diamond  with  three  kinds  of  lines.  1973.  Felt-tip  pen  on 
bond,  14  x  11".  Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel,  New  York. 

Touch  Slime.    1973.  Graphite  on  bond.  11   x  8W.  Collection  of  the 

artist . 



Tuttle's  Art 
On  Display 
At  Whitney 


To  Mies  van  der  Rone's 
famous  dictum  that  less  is 
more,  the  art  of  Richard  Tut- 
tle offers  definitive  refuta- 
tion. For  in  Mr.  Tuttle's  work, 
less  is  unmistakably  less.  It 
is,  indeed,  remorselessly  and 
Irredeemably  less.  R  estab- 
lishes new  standards  of  less- 
tma,  and  fairly  basks  in  the 
void  of  lessness.  One  is  tempt- 
ed to  say  that,  so  far  as  art 
is  concerned,  less  has  never 
been  as  less  as  this. 

The  exhibition  of  Mr.  Tut- 
tle's work  opening  today  at 
the  Whitney  Museum  of 
American  Art,  Madison  Ave- 
nue at  75th  Street,  is  billed  as 
•  "major"  show.  How  any- 
thing so  egregiously  subordi- 
nate to  the  most  minor  of 
minor  art  could  be  miscon- 
strued as  "major"  is  a  prob- 
lem I  am  content  to  leave  to 
metaphysicians  more  gifted 
than  I  am  at  fathoming  the 
ineffable.  Suffice  it  to  say  that 
the  show,  such  as  it  is,  oc- 
cupies the  entire  second  floor 
of  the  museum. 

But  then,  come  to  think  of 
K,  it  doesn't  occupy  the  entire 
second  floor  of  the  museum. 
Its  bits  and  pieces  lie  strewn 
around  the  ample  second- 
floor  galleries  in  a  pathetic 
attempt  to  master  its  vast 
empty  spaces.  Many  visitors 
will  leave  this  area  of  the 
museum  wondering  when  an 
exhibition  is  going  to  be  in- 
stalled, and  their  wonder  will 
be  well-founded. 

A  stick  of  wood  rising 
from  the  floor  A  bit  of  wire 
fastened  to  a  wall  embel- 
lished with  a  few  penciled 
lines.  Some  bits  of  string  ar- 
ranged on  the  rug.  Some 
dyed  fabric  tacked  up  to  re- 

semble a  painting.  Some  so- 
called  "drawings"  of  a  kind 
that  beginning  design  stu- 
dents the  world  over  are 
content  to  consign  to  the 
waste  basket.  That,  alas,  is 
what  this  "major"  show  con- 
sists of. 

It  is  all  a  bore  and  a  waste 
—  a  bore  for  the  museum 
visitor,  who  has  a  right  to 
expect  something  a  bit  more 
engaging  for  the  money  he 
has  just  handed  over  at  the 
admissions  desk,  and  a  waste 
for  the  museum  itself,  which 
does  not  boast  an  excess  of 
exhibition  space. 

Mr.  Tuttle,  who  was  born 
in  1941,  has  for  some  years 
enjoyed  an  underground  rep- 
utation as  a  minimal  artist. 
Orr  the  basis  of  this  exhibi- 
tion, I  think  it  would  have 
been  wiser  to  leave  that  rep- 
utation underground.  There, 
perhaps,  the  exceedingly 
minimal  pleasures  of  this 
minimal  oeuvre  would  con- 
tinue to  be  savored* by  the 
minimal  public  that  special- 
izes in  arid  productions  of 
this  sort.  What  is  the  point 
of  burdening  a  major  muse- 
um facility  with  such  a  mi- 
nuscule accomplishment? 


Marcia  Tucker,  the  curator 
at  the  Whitney  responsible 
for  this  debacle,  offers  little 
help  in  answering  this  ques- 
tion. For  her,  this  show  is  an 
occasion,  as  she  says,  "to 
discover  or  explore  some- 
thing which  is  unknown  in 
order  to  find  out  for  yourself 
what  it  is  about."  She  is  still 
working  on  the  problem — ad- 
mittedly, a  difficult  one  in 
this  case  —  and  promises  to 
produce  a  catalogue  of  her 
discoveries  after  the  show 
closes.  I  can  hardly  wait. 

Meanwhile,  we  are  to  be 
treated  to  a  series  of  modi- 
fications in  the  installation. 
The  present  arrangement  will 
be  altered  on  Oct.  7,  and  al- 
tered yet  again  on  Nov.  4. 
(How  manv  afficionados,  I 
wonder,  will  dutifully  pay  up 
their  three  admission  fees  in 
order  to  savor  the  full  subtle- 
ty of  this  farced  The  comedy 
closes  on  Nov.  16. 


Creating  the  Eterna 



Richard  Tuttle.  the  afternoon 
after  his  show  opened,  was  drinking 
coffee  in  the  Iront  room  of  Art 
Weave,  a  store  specializing  in  rare 
Asian  rugs  and  wall  hangings, 
across  the  street  from  the  Whitney 
Museum.  Himself  a  collector,  he 
w  as  trying  to  decide  on  an  exquisite 
early  19th  century  peasant  Turkish 
piece  which  was  spread  on  the  floor 
next  to  us.  Before  long  the 
conversation  turned  to  the  artist's 
dilemma  today,  and  Tuttle's 
controversial  exhibition  at  the 

Richard  Tuttle:  Most  people 
would  think  that  I  did  a  show  like 
this  for  my  career.  The  fact  is  that  I 
did  it  for  my  work,  that  is  all. 

The  art  is  a  compensation  for  the 
terrible  thing  it  is  to  be  an  artist 
today  in  America.  No  one 
understands  what  you.are.  One  of 
the  main  problems  of  American 
society,  which  is  very  adolescent 
comparedwith  Japanese.  French  or 
Italian  cultures,  is  the  lack  of 
recognition  of  the  artist  as  artist. 
The  society  sees  the  artist  either  as 
someone  who  lives  in  the  gutters  of 
wild  bohemia  or  as  a  movie  star .  As 
in  everything  else  in  America, 
economics  plays  a  major  part.  If  a 
person  is  rich,  then  he  has  status. 
An  artist  who  doesn't  sell  his  work 
has  the  status  of  a  bum  on  the 
Bowery.  Ironically,  because  of  this 
state  of  things,  American  art  is 
stronger  than  any  other  in  the  world 
at 'the  moment. 

Richard  Tattle 

Moira  Hodgson   In  what  way  do 
you  feel  this  works? 

RT:  The  more  you  are  told  a 
can't  be  the  way  you  are.  the  hard 
you  tight.  The  more  you  develi 
your  ability  to  think,  to  dream  ai 
to  invent. 

Knowing  what  art  isissomethii 
one  is  born  with.  It  doesn't  folk 
any  predictable  lines.  One  tends 
find  this  out  early  in  life.  In  (J 
society  to  find  that  out  is  rather 
desperate  thing.  The  artist  has  t 
ability  toshow  other  members  of  t 
society  what  art  is.  If  I  want  to  km 
whether  a  painting  I  see  in 
niuseumisanygood  or  not.  I'll  go 
another  artist. 

But  other  people  don't  und« 
stand  what  you  are  saying.  It's  lil 
being  a  crazy  man.  No  one  w 
listen.  People  who  are  put  away 
insane  asylums  often  have  a  lot 
say.  But  who  cares?  That's  he 
artists  are  treated  in  America. 

MH  Do  you  think  Europea 
treat  their  artists  any  better? 

RT  Because  their  cultures  are 
much  older.  I  here  are  people 
Europe  and  Japan  who  eg 
recognize  the  artist  for  what  he  i 
That's  why  so  many  Americ: 
artists  travel  there.  Not  for  th« 
careers,  but  for  their  work.  1  w, 
stunned,  when  I  went  to  Japan.  I 
the  way  people  simply  recognizt 
me  as  an  artist  by  seeing  it  in  tl 
shape  of  my  hands,  or  the  way  n 
eyes  look. 

MH  You  are  planning  to  chani 
your  show  twice  during  the  time  it 
on  display  at  the  Whitney.  Can  y< 
explain  how  you  will  be  doing  th 

RT  What  the  show  will  be  in  t 
next  two  phases  has  more  to  do  wi 
the  on-going  dialogue  I  ha 
established  with  the  curate 
Marcia  Tucker,  than  any  project* 
of  a  theory.  She  is  evolving  an  ess 
on  the  work  and  this  will  give  h 
direct  experience.  By  our  changi 
works  within  groups  or  series  sht 
then  be  able  to  have  contact  ovei 
two  or  three  week  period  wi 
different  works. 

Most  museum  shows  tend  to 
cut  and  dried.  The  chance  to 
creative  in  this  situation  isveryrai 

But  Marcia  and  I  are  children 
the  sixties.  With  the  sevent 
turning   out   to   be   a    period 

-nel lowing,  conservatism  gaining 
trength,  and  life  generally  getting 
luller,  more  than  every  one  should 
lave  the  courage  to  put  one's 
jeliefs  on  the  table.  Art  offers 
iecurity  for  some  people,  adventure 

MH:  Perhaps  people  are  looking 
or  permanence  in  the  arts  because 
he  rest  of  their  lives  changes  so 

RT  Life  is  1  ife  and  art  is  art.  They 
ire  not  the  same.  Once  I  had  an 
rxhibition  in  Dallas  and  at  the 
■pening  a  member  of  the  local  press 
nade  quite  a  scene  and  tried  to 
present  me  as  some  strange  buffoon 
torn  New  York  City.  She  went 
iround  introducing  me  to  people 
laying.  "Oh,  this  is  Richard  Turtle, 
te  believes  in  impermance  in  the 
irts."  She  made  the  mistake  of 
loing  it  to  Betty  Parsons  who 
mapped  back.  "What's  more 
permanent  than  the  invisible?" 

In  art  the  creative  moment  is  of 
mch  immeasurable  quality  and 
quantity  that  the  moment  is  a 
virtual  symbol  for  eternity.  I  don't 
know  whether  I'm  crazy  or  right  or 
that  but  in  artistic  terms  I  feel  that 
my  work .  if  it  lasts  for  one  second  or 
all  eternity,  it's  all  the  same  to  me. 
In  terms'of  art.  Of  course,  in  terms 
of  life  it  would  be  nice  if  they  stayed 
:hreeweeksinsteadoftwoanda  half 
or  whatever. 

MH  Wasthereapointinyourlife 
*hereyourwork  underwent  a  major 

RT  If  there  was  a  change  at  all  in 
my  work,  it  was  in  coming  to  the 
rity.  1  needed  to  seek  out  artists  who 
■bid  help  me  to  be  myself.  When  I 
first  came  I  told  an  artist  whose 
work  I  admire  that  I  felt  there  was 
something  wrong  with  every  artist's 
work  There  was  no  such  thing  as 
totally  perfect  art.  His  response 
was.  "Oh.  we're  going  to  have  to  be 
careful  of  you!" 

MH  You  arrived  at  a  time  when 
there  wasenormous  opportunity  for 
young  artists. 

RT  In  the  sixties  the  climate  was 
extremely  conducive  to  the  kind  of 
energyyoung  people  naturally  have. 
Youth  was  a  natural  source  of 
energy.  Young  people  showed 
promise.  The  older  people  had 
perhaps  made  more  substantial 
contributions,  but  they  didn't  have 
that  quality  of  promise.  In  the  same 
way  a  few  years  ago  women  were 
discovered  to  be  a  source  of  energy. 
And  recently  many  of  the  most  vital 
works  have  been  done  by  women.  So 
whatever  the  contribution  an 
individual  can  make  is  dominated 
by  the  climate  of  the  times.  Some 
people  might  refute  this  and  call  it 
fashion.  But  they  are  not  sensitive  to 
the  vital  climate  of  life  They  are 
dying  inside. 


Con  t.  from  22 

Forms  of  contemporary  art  are 
like  forms  of  nature.  If  there's  a 
strong  wind  the  grass  will  bend  right 
down,  If  there's  a  lighter  wind  it  will 
stand  up  more.  A  danger  is  for 
artists  to 'think  they  are  outside  of 
this  give  and  take.  To  make  a 
contribution  we  hook  up  to  a  train, 
travel  on  that  train  up  to  a  certain 
point,  then  it's  time  to  get  off  and 
somebodyelsepicksitup.  Thetrain 
is  what  is  important. 

MH:  You  point  out  how  different 
theclimateof  the  sixties  is  from  the 
seventies.  How  do  you  feel  your 
present  show  differs  from  your  first 
one  at  Parsons? 

RT:  I  hope  this  show  reveals 
something  about  the  moment.  I'm  a 
little  surprised.  To  me  the  show 
looks  as  though  it  sprang  full-blown 
from  the  head  of  Zeus!  There 
doesn't  seem  to  be  any  significant 
difference  between  the  old  work  and 
the  new.  Yet  it's  been  a  very  hard 
road  to  travel— ten  years.  It  might 
be  because  those  steps  have  to  do 
with  life,  and  art  is  art.  I  look  at  life 
all  the  time  and  I  find  it  almost  like  a 
jail.  Art  is  freedom.  Sol  surely  don't 
expect  to  see  life  when  I  look  at  a 
work  of  art. 

Frost  wrote  a  poem  that  I  like  very 
much  in  which  he  likens  human 
beings  to  a  child  who's  riding  a  great 
big  horse.  We  know  that  the  child 
can't  possibly  control  the  horse.  At 
theendofthepoemhesays,  "But  we 
will  always  have  a  better  idea." 
Much  of  the  search  an  artist  is 
involved  in  is  in  the  search  for  a 
better  idea  Nothing  could  please 
me  more  than  in  a  show  like  my 
current  one  for  a  younger  artist  to 
see  beyond  what  I've  done,  and 
beyond  what  I've  been  able  to  see. 


Thursday,  September  18,  1975 


Turtle's  Subtle  Output 


Museum,  through  November  16): 

The  works  in  this  line  exhibit  span 
a  ten  year  period.  Richard  Tuttle's 
lirst  show  was  in  1965.  Since  then 
he  has  firmly  established  himself 
outside  official  and  therefore 
artificial  boundaries.  When  does 
painting  end  and  sculpture  begin9 
Or  vice  versa?  The  very  terms 
themselves  seem  not  to  apply.  For 
instance,  his  Cloth  Octagonals 
(c.  1968).  the  works  I  first  noticed 
and  was  impressed  with,  can  be 
wall  pieces  or  floor  pieces.  They  are 
irregular  octagonals  of  dyed  and 
hemmed,  un-ironed  cloth  As 
paintings  they  abolish  the  support; 
they  make  color  integral;  they 
make  texture  the  results  of  a 
non-painterly  process.  As  sculp- 
ture, they  make  cloth  as  a  material 
as  valid  as  bronze  or  clay,  operating 
in  a  realm  somewhere  between  low 
relief  and  textured  flatness  Form, 
shape,  and  outline  are  not 
co-existent  or  inter-related  but 
identical  The  white  paper 
octagonals  which  followed  assume 
the  standard  white  wall  as  the 
setting  for  most  art  and.  thereby, 
since  they  are  adhered  directly  to 
the  wall,  melt  into  it.  requiring  the 
viewer  to  perceive  minute  differen- 
tiations, even  beyond  Malevich's 
classical  "White  on  White."  You 
compare,  once  the  form  is 
perceived,  the  white  of  the  paper 
with  the  white  of  the  wall.  Because 
you  have  to  work  to  see  it.  the 
minimal  relief  of  the  paper  is 

Another  boundary  that  Tuttle 
escapes  is  that  of  style.  His  works 
share  much  with  minimal  art:  the 
single  image,  the  understatement, 
the  reducttvity,  the  initial  bland- 
ness.  On  the  other  hand,  his  works 
are  too  eccentric  and  personal  to 
qualify  They  are  handmade  They 
have  no  direct  reference  to  industry 
or  industrial  methods  of  fabri- 
cation. They  are  intuitive 

Which  works  then  shall  I  goon  to 
describe?  Tuttle's  subtle  output 
utilizes  a  range  of  materials  But 
once  he  hits  his  stride  they  are  very 
ordinary  materials.  It  is  the 
sensitive  sparseness  of  their 
deployment  that  is  the  common 
denominator  Here  sensibility  is 
more  important  than  style.  Actions 
speak  louder  than  words,  and. 
Tuttle's  works  are  less  verbal  than 

Pholos  by  Mart,  Iv 

From  the  Tuttl*  ex 

most.  The  action  is  delicate,  but 
surprisingly  powerful.  You  look  at 
his  works — even  someof  the  almost 
inane  drawings — with  a  particular 
mode  of  consciousness.  How  long 
does  it  take,  for  instance,  to 
discover  that  the  slat  p'ieces  each 
have  one  edge  painted  white?  What 
does  this  do  to  the  wall?  Does  it 
emphasize  the  physicality  of  the 
slat  itself?  Tuttle's  works  demand 

An  earmark  of  genius  is  that 
often  the  results  of  the  genius  look 
unbelievably  simple  The  unin- 
formed, insensitive  response  is 
often  on  the  order  of  "a  child  could 
li.ive  done  that."  The  answer  is  that 
.i  child  might  have  done  "that." 
but  he  or  she  would  not  have  known 
enough  to  continue  doing  it  after 
seeing  the  results  and  operating 
upon  ludgments  fully  upon  the 
(esthetic  plane  On  theother  hand. 
,i  more  mature  response  might  he 
Why  didn't  1  think  of  doing 
i  hat?" 

Tuttle's  works  are  deceptively 
simple.  but  they  are  noi 
simple-minded.  1  admire  his  nerye 
Me  is  able  to  control  an  enormous 
expanse  of  space  with  the  slightes' 
amount  of  physicality 

Several  types  of  things  in  thi 
xhibil  are  new  lo  me.  and  they  fi 
i  some  gaps  in  my  understands 
i  I  mile's  development  I  an 
particularly  enamored  of  the  flooi 
:  iece  String  thing  Basically.  Ti:i  I 
raws  on  the  rug  with  string    li 

hibit  at  the  Whitney 

•  Ned.  "10  Kinds  ol  Mem,  n  \ 
Memory  Itself  "  This  is  ,,n 
unusually  evocative  title,  for  Tuttle 
seems  to  prefer  titles  such  as  "35th 
Wire  Piece."  "3rd  Rope  Piece,"  or 
"9th  Painting  for  the  Wall." 

No  catalog  for  this  exhibition  yet 
exists.  Curator  Marcia  Tucker's 
nunieo  hand-out  carefully  explains 
why  The  work  needs  to  be  seen  in 
installation.  Agreed.  The  work 
demands  a  sparseness  of  presenta- 
tion normally  not  needed.  Further- 
more, two  times  during  the 
duration,  works  in  particular  series 
will  be  changed.  I  admire  Tucker 
for  her  sensitivity  to  Tuttle's  works. 
A  retrospective,  particularly  for  a 
young  artist,  can  be  deadening,  but 
thisexhibit  maintains  the  openness 
inherent  in  Tuttle's  work. 

A  word  too  about  the  exhibition 
map  It  substitutes  for  wall  labels 
very  efficiently.  Given  Tuttle's  need 
for  undifferentiated  space  above, 
below,  and  all  around  his  works,  it 
is  not  a  gimmick,  but  3  necessity. 

This  is  an  exquisite  exhibit  that  I 
am  going  to  return  to  as  soon  as  1 
can  The  reader  might  wonder  how- 
string,  dyed  cloth,  paper,  or  slats 
can  be  exquisite,  but  let  us  not 
mistake  rare  or  costly  materials  for 
artistic  worth.  Tuttle's  art  is  calm 
and  ordinary  in  an  extraordinary 


Art/Thomas  B.  Hess 



".  .  .  Tuttle  tries  to  switch  on  the  lamps,  open  blinds  and  doors, 
and  let  the  light  flood  in  to  show  us  that  the  room  has  vanished. . ." 

Some  Tuttle:  Polymorphs  of  wood  and  canvas  are  among  the  enigmatic  shapes  arrayed  about  the  Whitney's  walls  and  floor. 

It  was  a  ravening  (or  was  it  a  rave?) 
review  in  the  New  York  Times  that 
first  attracted  me  to  the  coolly  vacant 
spaces  and  unpretentious  objects  in 
the  Richard  Tuttle  exhibition  at  the 
Whitney  Museum  (through  11/16). 
When  you  read  such  words  as  "remorse- 
lessly and  irredeemably  .  .  .  egregiously 
.  .  .  pathetic  ...  a  bore  and  a  waste  .  .  . 
arid  .  .  .  debacle  .  .  .  farce  .  .  ."  from  a 
critic  who  once  called  Jackson  Pollock 
"second-rate"  and  Willem  de  Kooning 
a  "pompier,"  then  it's  probable  that 
something  importantly  different  has 
come  to  notice.  Such  heavy  breathing, 
especially  when  couched  in  century-old 
forms  of  righteous  bombast,  often  indi- 
cates that  a  strong  presence  has  been 

Tuttle  is  a  fanatical  simplifier.  He  ex- 
plores the  logic  of  "impossible"  reduc- 
tions. There  was  a  joke  among  Ab- 
stract Expressionists  that,  in  the  Palace 
of  Art,  "Barnett  Newman  closed  the 
doors,  Mark  Rothko  pulled  down  the 
shades.  Ad  Reinhardt  turned  out  the 
lights."  Tuttle  tries  to  switch  on  all 
the  lamps,  open  the  blinds  and  doors, 
and  let  the  light  flood  in  to  show  us — 
with  the  fine  magician's  panache  of  a 
natural  artist — that  the  room  itself  has 
vanished.   There's   no   second   floor   to 

the  Whitney,  there's  no  museum  at  945 
Madison,  there's  no  Manhattan  Island. 
All  that's  left  is  nothing;  nothing,  noth- 
ing at  all.  At  first  glance,  that  is.  And 
Tuttle's  is  eminently  an  art  for  those 
happy  few  he  calls  "second  glancers." 
Consider,  for  example,  his  wire 
pieces,  done  in  1972  and  (like  most  of 
the  other  exhibits)  re-executed  for  the 
occasion.  At  first  you  might  think  that 
some  circuitry  from  the  museum's  elec- 
trical system  had  burst  through  the 
plaster  walls.  You  see  nothing  but 
looping  bits  of  wire,  some  shadows, 
and,  if  you  look  a  bit  closer,  a  thin 
line  drawn  in  pencil.  A  more  careful 
look,  however,  discovers  that  each  of 
these  pieces  is  a  diary  of  its  creation. 
First  Tuttle  drew  the  line  on  the  wall. 
Then  a  length  of  wire  was  applied  on 
top  of  the  line,  tracing  it  as  exactly  as 
possible.  Then  a  few  nails  were  driven 
into  the  track  and  the  wire  fixed  to 
them.  Finally  the  wire  was  cut  free 
from  its  coil — released  from  the  line. 
Three  things  remain  for  the  viewer  to 
contemplate:  there  is  the  pencil  line; 
there  is  the  memory  the  wire  holds  of 
having  been  coiled;  and  there  is  the 
force  of  gravity  which  holds  the  wire 
off  the  wall  like  a  keen  tendril.  And,  of 
course,  there  is  the  vulnerability  of  the 

piece — bumps  and  squeezes  from  pre- 
occupied second  glancers  or  heated  art 
critics  can  change  the  contours  dras- 

Tuttle  mildly  objects  to  the  usual 
labels  of  "Conceptual"  or  "Process 
Art"  for  such  works  because,  even 
though  they  testify  to  the  artist's  pro- 
cedures, chance — luck,  hazard — has  a 
major  role  in  the  final  shaping.  Tuttle 
can't  predict  how  the  wire  will  finally 
snap  into  the  air,  nor  where  its  shad- 
ows will  fall.  The  sinuous  shadows 
cast  by  museum  spotlights  are  darker 
than  the  wire;  they  echo  and  subvert 
the  more  awkward  pencil  line  in  a 
learned   game   of   reality   and   illusion. 

The  finished  pieces  are  complex  im- 
ages, dependent  on  strict  plans  that 
Tuttle  elaborates  in  calculated  risks. 
The  unifying  metaphor  concerns  mem- 
ory. The  pencil  line  remembers  the 
wire.  The  wire  remembers  its  coil. 
Shadows  remember  the  wire  even  as 
they  contradict  the  materiality  of  the 
line.  There  is  a  layering  of  recollec- 
tions, one  on  top  of  the  other.  Some 
of  them  are  verifiable — they  can  be 
measured  or  photographed.  Others  are 
subjective  and  depend  on  where  you 
stand,  how  you  feel,  what  you  remem- 
ber about   art.    It's   a   visual   structure 

that  would  delight  a  modern-dress 
Proust:  Marcel  also  had  a  passion  for 
objects  buttered  with  remembrances. 

Tuttle's  Twenty-Six  Series  is  an  in- 
ventive metal  alphabet  strewn  across 
a  wall.  He  firmly  articulated  the  "T" 
and  "U"  and  "L"  shapes — evidently 
another  artist  who.  like  Mir<5  and  Mon- 
drian.  enjoys  spelling  out  his  name. 
And  there  are  the  plywood  Slats  (ex- 
hibited last  year  in  his  sixth  one-man 
show  at  the  Betty  Parsons  Gallery). 
Here  again,  at  first  glance,  you  sec 
"nothing" — some  pieces  of  wood  cut 
on  an  angle  at  the  top,  attached  to  the 
wall,  pointing  at  the  veiling  like  split 
arrows.  When  closer  attention  is  paid, 
you  note  that  certain  edges  are  painted, 
others  are  left  raw;  angles  are  varied, 
as  are  placements,  heights,  widths. 
Every  element  is  subject  to  camouflage. 
The  "slats"  seem  to  change  shape,  flick- 
er, as  you  study  them  and  compare 
one  with  the  other.  Suddenly  you  have 
the  sense  that  somewhere  there  is  a 
hermetic  message,  something  is  being 
hidden — there  is  a  secret.  And  this, 
perhaps,  explains  the  wrath  of  the 
Times's  critic.  Nothing  is  so  infuriating 
to  certain  people  than  the  feeling  of 
being  held  outside,  of  being  considered 
out-of-touch.  provincial,  or  irrelevant. 

Tuttle's  modest,  vulnerable  pieces 
are    concerned    with    delicacies,    with 

elisions  and  refinements  of  adjustment. 
Some  pale-fire  canvas  octagons,  pasted 
to  the  wall,  like  many  other  of  Tuttle's 
pieces,  elude  a  catalog  mentality.  Are 
they  drawings  (all  that  counts  is  the 
linear  edges)?  Or  are  they  paintings 
(they  are.  indeed,  palpably  painted)? 
Are  they  low-relief  sculptures?  Or  mul- 
tiples? Tuttle's  works  are  apt  to  con- 
flate all  such  formalities.  They  glide 
from  one  category  to  another,  in  a 
moment,  when  your  back  is  turned,  so 
to  speak,  in  chameleon  tricks  that  are 
essential  to  Tuttle's  subject  matter 

The  vitality  and  energy  in  his  pieces 
are  extraordinary,  especially  as  each  is 
so  drastically  simplified.  The  artist  is 
after  essences;  not  streamlined  Platonic 
ones,  such  as  Brancusi's  Bird,  but  in- 
formal, folded,  asymmetrical,  lumpy, 
hairy  little  entelechies  He  celebrates 
simplicity  and  pared-down  refinements 
which  can  be  compared  to  a  mathe- 
matician's concept  of  "elegance."  And. 
like  a  scientist.  Tuttle  keeps  himself 
out  of  the  transaction  between  his  art 
and  the  viewer.  The  idea  of  an  artist 
and  of  his  creative  procedures  arc 
what  the  audience  has  to  imagine  for 
itself  It  takes  patience,  care,  an  open 
and  inquiring  mind.  In  this  private 
art.  the  public  works. 


OCTOBER    13    1975/NEW  YORK 

ART  /  Lawrence  Alio  way 

The  Richard  Turtle  exhibition  at  the 
Whitney  Museum  (until  November  16)  calls 
to  mind  the  best  exhibition  that  James 
Monte  and  Marcia  Tucker  ever  presented 
there— "Anti-IUusion:  Procedures-Materi- 
als" (1969).  In  that  earlier  show,  instead  of 
pre-existing  works  of  art  being  assembled 
for  the  show,  the  artists  worked  in  situ.  In 
the  case  of  the  Turtle  show,  arranged  by 
Marcia  Tucker,  many  of  the  works  were 
already  in  existence,  but  the  artist's  pres- 
ence was  necessary  to  install  them.  That 
was  not  because  they  are  complicated  but 
because  they  function  as  accents  within  ex- 
isting spaces  and  only  the  artist  can  deter- 
mine their  location.  The  catalogue  of 
"Anti-Illusion"  obviously  could  not  include 
works  that  did  not  exist  at  press  time,  but  it 
presented  a  rationale  for  the  then  new  work 
procedures  that  were  the  subject  of  the 
exhibition.  As  yet,  there  is  no  catalogue  for 
the  Turtle  show;  it  is  being  written  now  by 
the  curator,  who  felt  she  had  to  see  what 
Turtle  made  of  the  second  floor  of  the 
museum  before  writing. 

We  are  faced  then  with  an  art  in  singular 
correspondence  with  its  environment.  It  is 
an  interesting  and  legitimate  way  to  work; 
the  sculpture  of  Cecile  Abish,  for  instance, 
consists  of  sets  of  separate  elements  which 
exist  as  art  only  when  assembled  by  the 
artist.  The  rest  of  the  time  they  are  a  heap 
of  hardware.  As  she  says,  "the  surfaces 
upon  which  I  work  do  not  belong  to  me. 
The  surfaces  are  the  property  of  institu- 
tions, galleries  and  individuals.  When  fin- 
ished, the  sculpture  I  build  cannot  be  sep- 
arated from  the  surface."  One  of  her  large 
floor  pieces,  recently  at  the  Michael  Walls 
Gallery,  demonstrated  that  the  practice  of 
art  as  a  form  of  temporary  possession  of 
space  has  no  inherent  limitations.  Abish 
points  ouf  that  the  zone  occupied  by  her 
sculpture  had  another  name  before  her 
occupancy:  "it  is  called  the  floor  or  the 

If  a  museum  is  sufficiently  interested  in 
an  artist  to  decide  to  give  him  a  large  exhi- 
bition it  must  be  on  the  basis  of  a 
knowledge  of  his  past  work.  And  if  that  is 
the  case  the  knowledge  of  the  earlier  occa- 
sions of  Turtle's  art  should  provide  suffi- 
cient material  for  an  account  of  his  method 
of  work  and  a  record  of  what  he  has  done 
up  to  now.  Of  course,  the  curator's  experi- 
ence will  always  be  enlarged  by  contem- 
plating the  show  she  or  he  has  arranged, 
but  then  you  write  an  article  sharing  the 
gained  insights.  To  withhold  the  catalogue 
from  the  exhibition's  visitors  is  an  abroga- 
tion of  the  museum's  educational  responsi- 
bilities. Is  it  really  so  difficult  to  state  what 
Turtle  is  doing?  Lacking  a  catalogue,  the 
Whitney  offers  a  3-page  duplicated  hand- 
out in  which  Tucker  says  that  Turtle's  work 
"is  'felt'  rather  than  'understood'  " — which 
is,  to  say  the  least,  an  old-hat  argument.  I 
find  it  hard  to  believe  that  Turtle  sets  aes- 

thetic problems  greater,  subtler,  or  more 
elusive  than  those  raised  by  other  artists. 

Let  us  assume  that  Turtle  is  no  more 
inexplicable  than  many  other  artists  and 
note  that  in  the  mid-1960s  he  made 
one-color  wooden  reliefs  Influenced  by  Ells- 
worth Kelly's  paintings.  "Yellow  Dancer" 
(1965),  for  instance,  a  skewed  horseshoe 
form,  is  clearly  from  Kelly  but  with  a 
roughly  crafted  look.  Other  pieces  of  this 
period  are  "Shadow"  and  "Ash  Wednes- 
day." The  unassuming  workmanship  is  not 
there  to  hide  the  debt  to  Kelly's  im- 
maculate handling;  it  is  simply  characteris- 
tic of  all  his  work.  He  projects  a  kind  of 
candor  by  avoiding  high  finish  or  complex 
forms.  The  other  influence  is  Agnes 
Martin,  who  is  certainly  the  model  for  his 
assumption  that  humble  objects  can  gen- 
erate rapturous  thought.  Martin's  mysti- 
cism appears  in  Turtle's  art  as  a  hazy  bond 
between  aestheticism  and  contemplation. 

It  appears  to  have  been  in  1967  that  he 
began  his  cloth  pieces,  but  in  the  absence 
of  a  catalogue  I  am  not  sure.  These  are 
pieces  of  cloth,  dyed  one  color,  deeply 
creased,  and  pinned  to  the  wall.  These  are 
to  my  eye  his  best  pieces:  tactful  in  color 
and  agreeably  varied  in  contour  because 
the  angles  and  'sides  of  the  figures  are 
tousled.  The  casual  touch  of  the  reliefs 
hardens  here  into  something  a  little 
rougher:  the  octagon  resembles  a  skin,  even 
if  it  is  that  of  chamois.  Now  if  I  am  right 
and  these  are  his  best  works,  >hat  do  they 
reveal  about  the  artist?  They  show  some- 
body with  a  gift  for  making  sensuous 
objects,  someone  with  an  eye  for  the  anima- 
tion caused  by  irregularities  of  form,  and  a 
sense  of  pretty  color.  In  short,  Turtle  is  an 
artist  of  good  taste  and  though  that  is  con- 
ventionally said  to  be  hard  to  verbalize,  it  is 
not  what  Tucker  has  in  mind. 

The  engaging  humbleness  of  the  cloth 
octagons  turned  into  an  art  of  low  visibility 
and  high  environmental  pretension.  As 
Turtle's  work  shrank,  its  scope  was  ex- 
pected to  expand.  In  the  present  show, 
there  are  paper  octagons  of  1969,  similar  in 
color  to  but  different  in  texture  from  the 
walls  they  are  pasted  on.  There  are  wire 
pieces  from  1972,  in  which  a  real  wire, 
bent,  is  stuck  into  the  wall  and  a  pencil  line 
drawn  from  the  points  of  attachment. 
These,  combined  with  the  shadows  cast  by 
the  wire,  create  a  crabbed  little  neat  of  two- 
and  three-dimensional  lines.  And  there  are 
wood  pieces  of  last  year:  in  each  of  these  a 
thin  slat  projects  a  short  distance  up  the 
wall.  All  these  little  works  occupy  large 
empty  spaces.  It  is  clear  that  these  piquant 
accents  are  intended  to  resonate,  to  take 
possession  of  what,  to  adapt  Abish's  terms, 
had  been  walls.  But  Turtle  overestimates 
the  efficacy  of  the  small  and  his  pieces  stay 
tiny  and  the  surrounding  walls  inert.  A 
common  experience  at  the  Whitney  is  to 

look  at  the  objects  and  the  spaces  they  are 
supposed  to  enliven  and  to  note  how  pooriy 
the  white  walls  are  being  maintained.  One 
sees  the  Whitney's  pimples  rather  than  the 
pure  flame  of  Turtle  The  spaces  he  enters 
are  not  transformed.  Turtle's  development, 
then,  has  taken  him  away  from  his  feeling 
for  chunky  but  tactful  objects  bearing  signs 
of  a  craft  that  connoted  naivete  and  toward 
infiltration  of  the  environment.  However 
his  main  way  of  doing  this  is  by  placement, 
by,  that  is  to  say,  the  distribution  of  accents 
and  emphases  in  existing  spaces.  It  is  like 
flower  arrangement. 

The  artist  will  make  two  installation 
changes  during  the  run  of  the  exhibition— 
on  October  7  and  November  4.  That  is 
another  reason  Tucker  gives  for  writing  the 
catalogue  after  the  show  rather  than  for  the 
show's  visitors.  It  occurs  to  me  that  there  is 
a  possible  tactical  advantage  here,  inas- 
much as  the  post-show  catalogue  enables  a 
curator  to  answer  criticism.  At  least,  one 
hopes  so.  D 

THE  NATlOH/October  //,  797/ 

Permission  to  reprint  David  Bourdon's  article  was  not  granted. 
Accordingly  we  have  included  a  summary  of  his  review. 

David  Bourdon,  in  his  "Playing  Hide  and  Seek  in 
the  Whitney"  (The  Village  Voice,  September  29,  1975), 
described  Tuttle's  work  as  "ultra-Minimalist"— so 
unassuming  in  appearance  that  it  "almost  asks  to  be 
damned  with  faint  praise,"  the  retrospective  as  "un- 
derwhelming," and  the  presentation  as  "overblown." 
He  characterized  Tuttle's  art  as  having  a  "gentle, 
though  fey  quality,"  as  "situational,"  and  as  a  "per- 
verse type  of  interior  decoration."  The  art  appears 
"niggardly,  if  not  always  precious,"  he  wrote,  and  the 
scale  of  the  work  so  small  that  following  the  floor  plan 
to  find  the  pieces  was  like  going  on  a  treasure  hunt 
where  the  discoveries  are  "merely  geographic,  instead 
of  aesthetic." 

In  the  last  two  paragraphs  of  the  review,  Bourdon 
spoke  of  Marcia  Tucker's  "unprofessional  behavior" 
in  "abdicat(ing  her]  critical  responsibilities"  and  sug- 
gested that  her  failing  to  "familarize  herself  with  an 
artist's  work  before  mounting  a  show"  was  her  reason 
for  postponing  publication  of  the  catalogue  until  after 
the  exhibition.  He  closed  with  the  thought  that  if 
Tucker's  Tuttle  catalogue  is  like  the  others  she  has  put 
out,  it  "probably  will  be  as  'elusive'  and  'ephemeral'  as 
anything  in  Tuttle's  art." 


Compiled  by  Katherine  Sokolnikoff 


Born  July  12.  in  Railway,  New  Jersey 


Attended  public  schools  in  Roselle,  New  Jersey 


Attended    Trinity    College,    Hartford,    Connecticut 

(editor  of  Ivy,  Trinity  yearbook;  designed  and  painted 

sets  for  theater  production;  received  B.A.  in  Fine  Arts) 


Attended  evening  courses  at  Pratt  School  of  Design, 



Moved  to  New  York  City 


Attended  Cooper  Union,  New  York 


Worked  for  Agnes  Martin 


First  one-artist  exhibition  at  Betty  Parsons  Gallery, 
New  York 

Grant  from  C.  Douglas  Dillon  Foundation,  New  York, 
which  made  possible  a  trip  to  Paris  to  attend  the  Cite 
Internationale  des  Arts 

Worked  for  Tony  Smith  during  the  first  showing  of 
Smith's  sculpture  at  the  Wadsworth  Atheneum, 
Hartford,  Connecticut,  and  the  Institute  of  Contem- 
porary Art,  University  of  Pennsylvania,  Philadelphia 
Worked  installing  shows  at  Asia  House,  New  York 


Grant   from  the  National  Endowment  for  the  Arts, 

Washington,  D.C. 

Traveled  to  Japan  for  six  months 


First  one-artist  European  exhibition,  Galerie  Schme- 

la,  Diisseldorf,  Germany 


Traveled  to  Turkey  with  Betty  Parsons  and  Mr.  and 

Mrs.  Gordon  Washburn 

Began  collecting  Islamic  carpets 


First    became    familiar   with    the    work   of   Rosanji 

Kitaoji,  a  contemporary  potter 


Traveled  to  Japan  and  the  South  Seas 


Traveled  to  Greece 

Participated  in  program  at  Artpark,  Lewiston,  New 



Traveled  to  Japan 

Selected  One-Artist  Exhibitions 


"First  One-Man  Show  Richard  Tuttle:  Constructed 

Painting,"  Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 


Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 


Galerie  Schmela,  Diisseldorf,  Germany 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 


Nicholas  Wilder  Gallery,  Los  Angeles 


Albright-Knox  Art  Gallery,  Buffalo,  New  York 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 

Galerie  Zwirner,  Cologne,  Germany 


"Richard    Tuttle,"    Dallas    Museum    of   Fine    Arts, 

Dallas,  Texas 

The  Helman  Gallery,  St.  Louis,  Missouri 


Galerie  Zwirner,  Cologne,  Germany 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 

Galerie  Yvon  Lambert,  Paris 

The  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  New  York 


"Richard  Tuttle:  Das  11.  Papierachteck  und  Wand- 

malereien,"  Kunstraum,  Munich 

Galerie  Heiner  Friedrich,  Munich 

Galleria  Franchise  Lambert,  Milan 

Daniel  Weinberg  Gallery,  San  Francisco 

The  Clocktower,  New  York 


Galleria  Toselli,  Milan 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery,  New  York 

Galerie  Yvon  Lambert,  Paris 

Galleria  Marilena  Bonomo,  Bari,  Italy 

Barbara  Cusack  Gallery,  Houston,  Texas 

Nigel  Greenwood  Gallery,  London 


Parsons-Truman  Gallery,  New  York 

DAlessandro-Fcrranti,  Rome 


"Paper  Strips,"  Barbara  Cusack  Gallery,  Houston, 


"Matrix  10,"  Matrix  Gallery,  Wadsworth  Atheneum, 

Hartford,  Connecticut 

Selected  Group  Exhibitions 


"A  New  York  Collector  Selects,  Mrs.  B.  Tremaine," 
San  Francisco  Museum  of  Art 
"The  Box  Show,"  Byron  Gallery,  New  York 
"Contemporary  American  Painting,"  Lehigh  Univer- 
sity, Bethlehem,  Pennsylvania 

Virginia  Museum  of  Fine  Arts,  Richmond  (exhibition 

"Drawings   from   the  Collection   of  Betty   Parsons" 
(exhibition  traveled) 

12th  Annual  Contemporary  Painting  Exhibition,  Le- 
high University,  Bethlehem,  Pennsylvania 
Penthouse  Gallery,  The  Museum  of  Modern  Art.  New 

2e   Salon    International    de   Galeries-pilotes,    Musee 
Cantonal  des  Beaux  Arts,  Lausanne,  Switzerland 

"Preview  1968,"  Trinity  College,  Hartford,  Connecti- 

State  University  College,  Potsdam,  New  York 
"American  Abstract  Artists,"  32nd  Anniversary  Ex- 
hibition, Riverside  Art  Center  and  Museum,  River- 
side, California 
Bykert  Gallery,  New  York 

"Painting  Out  From  the  Wall,"  Des  Moines  Art 
Center,  Des  Moines,  Iowa 

Art  Form,"  John  Gibson  Gallery,  New  York 
"Betty   Parsons'   Private  Collection,"   Finch   College 
Museum  of  Art,  New  York 

"Some  Younger  American  Painters  and  Sculptors," 
American  Federation  of  Arts  Traveling  Exhibition 

Oilier    Ideas. "  The  I  )elruil    Insl  ll  ule  nl    \ns    Detroit, 


"Art  on  Paper,"   The  VVeatherspoon  Annual  Exhibi- 
tion, University  of  North  Carolina.  Greensboro 
"Here  and  Now,"  Washington  University  Caller  \  ol 
Art,  St.  Louis,  Missouri 

"Young  Artists  from  the  Collection  of  Charles 
Cowles,"  The  Aldrich  Museum  of  Contemporary  Art, 
Ridgefield,  Connecticut 

"Live  in  Your  Head:  When  Attitudes  Become  Form" 
(Nine  Works,  Processes,  Concepts,  Situations,  Infor- 
mation), Kunsthalle,  Bern,  Switzerland 
"Anti-Illusion:  Procedures/Materials,"  Whitney  Mu- 
seum of  American  Art,  New  York 
31st  Biennial,  Corcoran  Gallery  of  Art,  Washington, 

"American  Painting:  the  1960s,"  The  American  Fed- 
eration of  Arts  Gallery,  New  York 
"Soft  Art,"  New  Jersey  State  Museum,  Trenton 

"New  Materials,"  Trinity  College,  Hartford,  Connec- 

"Paper  Works,"  Junior  Council  of  the  Museum  of 
Modern  Art,  New  York 

"Using  Walls  (Indoors),"  The  Jewish  Museum,  New 


"Paintings  Without  Supports,"  Bennington  College, 

Bennington,  Vermont 

Bykert  Gallery,  New  York 

"Small  Series,"  Paula  Cooper  Gallery,  New  York 


"Actualite  d'un  Bilan,"  Galerie  Yvon  Lambert,  Paris 
Documenta  5,  Kassel,  Germany 


"New  American  Graphic  Art,"  Fogg  Art  Museum, 
Harvard  University,  Cambridge,  Massachusetts 
Barbara  Cusack  Gallery,  Houston,  Texas 
"Hand-Colored  Prints,"  Brooke  Alexander,  Inc.,  New 

"Bilder-Objekte-Filme-Konzepte,"  Collection  of  Jost 
Herbig,  Stadtische  Galerie,  Lenbachhaus,  Munich 
"Works  of  Paper,"  The  Newark  Museum,  Newark, 
New  Jersey 

"Options  and  Alternatives:  Some  Directions  in  Re- 
cent Art,"  Yale  University  Art  Gallery,  New  Haven, 

"American  Drawings,  1963-1973,"  Whitney  Museum 
of  American  Art,  New  York 

"Arte  Come  Arte,"  Centro  Communitario  di  Breta, 

"Young  American  Artists,  Drawings  and  Graphics" 
(exhibition  traveled  to  Switzerland,  Norway,  Sweden, 
Denmark  and  Germany;  organized  by  Steingrim 
Laursen  for  Gentofte  Kunstvenner  of  Gentofte  Kom- 
"Art  in  Evolution,"  Xerox  Square  Exhibits,  New  York 


"Contemporanea,"    Incontri     Internazionali    d'arte, 


Cirrus,  Los  Angeles 


""Drawings  on  Paper."  The  Museum  of  Modern  Art. 
New  York 

"Painting    and    Sculpture    Today    1974.'"    Contem- 
porary Art  Center  of  the  Indianapolis  \iuseum  of  Art. 
Indianapolis.  Indiana,  and  Contemporary  An  Center 
and  the  Taft  Museum.  Cincinnati.  Ohio 
"The  Bay  Area  Collects:  Sandra  and  Breck  Caldwell." 
University  Art  Museum.  Berkeley.  California 
'"Line   as    Language.    Six    Artists    Draw."    The    Art 
Museum.  Princeton  University.  Princeton.  New  Jer- 
"Recent  Prints."  Brooke  Alexander.  Inc..  New  York 


Galleria  Marilena  Bonomo.  Ban.  Italy 
""Small  Scale."  The  Art  Institute  of  Chicago 
""Recent   Drawings."   American   Federation   of  Arts. 
New  York 

"Zeichnungen  3."  Stadtisches  Museum  Leverkusen, 
Schloss  Morsbroich.  Leverkusen.  Germany 
"'Richard  Brown  Baker  Collects!"  Yale  University  Art 
Gallery.  New  Haven.  Connecticut 
"Mel  Bochner.  Barry  Le  \*a.  Dorothea  Rockburne, 
Richard  Tuttle."  Contemporary  Arts  Center.  Cincin- 
nati. Ohio 

"Selections  from  the  Collection  of  Dorothy  and  Her- 
bert Yogel."  The  Clocktower.  New  York 
""Art  on  Paper."  The  Weatherspoon  Annual  Exhibi- 
tion. University  of  North  Carolina.  Greensboro 
"Painting.  Drawing  and  Sculpture  of  the  '60s  and  the 
'70s  from  the  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Yogel  Collection." 
Institute  of  Contemporary  Art.  University  of  Penn- 
sylvania. Philadelphia 

"14  Artists."  Baltimore  Museum  of  Art.  Baltimore. 

Selected  Bibliography 

by  Libby  W.  Seaberg 

References  are  arranged  alphabetically  by  author,  if 

known,  or  by  title,  with  exhibition  catalogues  listed 

either  under  the  corporate  body  that  prepared  the 

catalogue  or  the  city  in  which  the  corporate  body  is 



I  rxLEj  Richard.  Statement  in  "Artists  on  Their 
Art."  Art  International,  vol.  12,  May  15,  1968,  p.  48. 

Statement  in  Kurtz.  Bruce  ""Documenta  5:  A 

Critical  Preview,"  \ri  Hagazim  vol.  46.  Summer 
1972,  p.  39. 

Statement  in  Rose.  Barbara.  "ABC  Art.    Art 

in  America,  vol.  53,  October/ November  1965,  p.  60. 

"'Work  Is  Justification  for  the  Excuse."  in 

Documenta  5.  Befragung  der  Realitdt  Bilduelten  heute, 
vol.  1,  p.  17.77  [full  entry  is  given  under  "Books  and 
Exhibition  Catalogues"]. 


The  American  Federation  of  Arts.  American  Painting: 
the  1960's  (text  by  Samuel  Adams  Green).  New 
York.  1969. 

Bern.  Kunsthalle.  Lite  in  Your  Head:  When  Attitudes 
Become  Form  (introduction  and  catalogue's  direction 
by  Harald  Szeemann;  text  by  Scott  Burton, 
Gregoire  Muller  and  Tommaso  Trini;  variant  edi- 
tion of  catalogue  produced  for  exhibition  at  The 
Institute  of  Contemporary  Arts.  London,  also  con- 
tains essay  by  Charles  Harrison).  Bern,  [1969]. 

Betty  Parsons  Gallery.  "First  One-Man  Show 
Richard  Tuttle:  Constructed  Paintings  (statement 
by  Gordon  B.  Washburn)."  New  York.  1965.  Exhi- 
bition announcement. 

Cincinnati.  The  Contemporary  Arts  Center.  Mel 
Bochner,  Barry  Le  Va,  Dorothea  Rockburne,  Richard 
Tuttle  (introduction  by  Ragland  Watkins:  essay  on 
Tuttle  by  Dorothy  Alexander).  Cincinnati,   1975. 

Dallas  Museum  of  Fine  Arts.  Richard  Tuttle  (essay  bv 
Rfobert]  M.  M[urdock]).  [Dallas],  1971. 

The  Detroit  Institute  of  Arts.  Other  Ideas  (intro- 
duction by  Samuel  J.  VVagstaff,  Jr.).  Detroit,  1969. 

Documenta  5.  Befragung  der  Realitdt  Bildwelten  heute,  2 
vols.  Kassel.  Ger.:  Yerlag  documenta  Gmb  H,  1972. 

Finch  College  Museum  of  Art.  Betty  Parsons'  Private 
Collection  (acknowledgment  by  Elayne  H.  Yarian; 
text  by  Eugene  Goossen).  New  York,  1968. 

Hunter,  Sam  and  John  Jacobus.  American  Art  of  the 
20th  Century:  Painting,  Sculpture,  Architecture.  New 
York:  Harry  N.  Abrams.  n.d. 

The  Jewish  Theological  Seminary  of  America, 
The  Jewish  Museum.  Using  Walls  (Indoors)  (in- 
troduction bv  Susan  Tumarkin  Goodman).  New 
York,  1970. 

Mi  nich,  Kunstraum.  Richard  Tuttle:  Das  11.  Pa- 
pierachteck  und  Wandmalereien  [Richard  Tuttle:  The  1 1th 
Paper  Octagonal  and  Paintings  for  the  Wall)  (essay  by 
Hermann  Kern,  revised  and  authorized  by  the 
artist).  Munich,  1973.  Catalogue  in  German  and 

Xi  w  Jersey  State  Mi  si  I  M  Sqfl  Art  (introduction  by- 
Ralph  Pomeroy).  Trenton,  1969. 

Pi  snsylvama,  University  of;  Institute  of  Con  i  i  m- 
porary  Art.  Painting,  Drawing  and  Sculpture  of  the  '60s 
and  the  '70s  from  the  Dorothy  and  Herbert  Vogel  Collection 


(foreword  by  Suzanne  Delehanty).  Philadelphia, 

Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art.  Anti-Illusion: 
Procedures /Materials  (essays  by  James  Monte  and 
Marcia  Tucker).  New  York,  1969. 

Yale  University  Art  Gallery.  Options  and  Alterna- 
tives: Some  Directions  in  Recent  Art  (preface  by  Alan 
Shestack;  essays  by  Anne  Coffin  Hanson,  Klauss 
Kertess  and  Annette  Michelson;  segment  on  Tuttle 
by  Priscilla  Whiteman).  [New  Haven,  Conn.,  1973]. 

newspapers  and  periodicals 

Alloway,  Lawrence.  "Art,"  The  Nation,  vol.  221, 
October  11,  1975,  p.  350. 

Ammann,  Jean-Christophe.  Pp.  47-50  in  "Schweizer 
Brief:  'Live  in  Your  Head— When  Attitudes  Be- 
come Form,'"  Art  International,  vol.  13,  May  20, 

Anderson,  Laurie.  Pp.  113-14  in  "Reviews  and 
Previews,"  Art  News,  vol.  73,  Summer  1974. 

"Art  in  New  York:  Galleries:  Richard  Tuttle,"  Time 
[New  York  edition],  vol.  86,  September  24,  1965,  p. 

"Art:  The  Avant-Garde:  Subtle,  Cerebral,  Elusive," 
Time,  vol.  92,  November  22,  1968,  pp.  70-77. 

"Art  Tour:  The  Galleries— A  Critical  Guide,  New  York 
Herald  Tribune,  September  1  1,  1965,  p.  9. 

Battcock,  Gregory.  "More  or  Less?  The  People 
Speak,"  The  Soho  Weekly  News,  vol.  3,  October  23, 
1975,  p.  23;  article  continues  in  "High  Art  at 
Braniff,"  The  Soho  Weekly  News,  vol.  3,  November  6, 
1975,  p.  22. 

Baur.  John  I.  H.  P.  4  in  "Letters:   Bourdoned,"  The 

Village  Voice,  vol.  22,  October  13,  1975. 
Borden,  Lizzie.  P.  84  in  Reviews,"  Artforum,  vol.  10, 

May  1972. 
P.  88  in  "Reviews,"  Artforum,  vol.  1 1,  October 

Bourdon,  David.  "Playing  Hide  and  Seek  in   the 

Whitney,"  The  Village  Voice,  vol.  20,  September  29, 

1975,  pp.  97-98. 
B[urton],  S[cott].  P.  56  in  "Reviews  and  Previews." 

Art  News,  vol.  66,  January  1968. 
"Time  on  Their  Hands,"  Art  News,  vol.  68, 

Summer  1969,  pp.  40-43. 
C[ampbei.l],    L[awrence].    P.    11    in    "Reviews   and 

Previews,"  Art  News,  vol.  64,  September  1965. 
P.  56  in  "Reviews  and  Previews,"  Art  News, 

vol.  71,  March  1972. 
Canaday,  John.   "The  Quiet   Anger  of  Jacob 

Lawrence,"  The  New  York  Times,  January  6,  1968,  p. 

Catoir,  Barbara.  Pp.  42-43  in  "Ausstellungen: 
Richard  Tuttle  'Drahtstucke'  1971-1972,"  Das 
Kunstwerk,  vol.  25,  September  1972. 

Celant,  Germano.  "La  'Pittura  Fredda'  Americana," 
Domus,  June  1973,  pp.  49-51.  English  translation 
"American  'Cool'  Painting  (Henry  Martin, 
trans.),"  unpaged  supplement  between  pp.  48  and 

Crimp,  Douglas.  P.  100  in  "Reviews  and  Previews," 
Art  News,  vol.  72,  Summer  1973. 

Foote,  Nancy.  Pp.  102-3  in  "Review  of  Exhibitions," 
Art  in  America,  vol.  62,  May /June  1974. 

Frank,  Peter.  "The  National  Scene:  Boston:  Recog- 
nition for  Local  Artists,"  Art  News,  vol.  72,  De- 
cember 1973,  p.  73. 

P.  114  in  "Reviews  and  Previews,"  Art  News, 

vol.  73,  Summer  1974. 

Garver,  Thomas  H.  "Los  Angeles,"  Artforum,  vol.  8, 
September  1969,  pp.  66-67. 

Gilbert-Rolfe,  Jeremy.  Pp.  67-68  in  "Reviews," 
Artforum,  vol.  12,  June  1974. 

Glueck,  Grace.  "Remember  Tom  Mix?  Roy  Merkin 
Does,"  The  New  York  Times,  February  25,  1965,  p.  23. 

Gold,  Barbara.  "Corcoran  Biennial:  New  Sensibility 
in  Washington,"  Arts  Magazine,  vol.  43,  April  1969, 
pp.  28-31. 

Heinemann,  Susan.  Pp.  75-76  in  "Reviews,"  Artforum, 
vol.  12,  June  1974. 

Hess,  Thomas  B.  "Art:  Private  Art  Where  the  Public 
Works,"  New  York,  vol.  8,  October  13,  1975,  pp. 

H[oene],  A[nne],  Pp.  65-66  in  "In  the  Galleries,"  Arts 
Magazine,  vol.  40,  November  1965. 

Josephson,  Mary.  "New  York  Reviews:  Richard 
Tuttle  at  Betty  Parsons,"  Art  in  America,  vol.  60, 
May/June  1972,  pp.  31,  33. 

Karp,  Ivan.  "Here  and  Now,"  Arts  Magazine,  vol.  43, 
March  1969,  p.  49. 

Kelder,  Diane.  "Prints:  Artists'  Alterations,"  Art  in 
America,  vol.  62,  March/April  1974,  pp.  96-97. 

Kerber,  Bernhard  .  P.  73  in  "Documenta  und  Szene 
Rhein-Ruhr,"  Art  International,  vol.  16,  October 
1972,  pp.  68-77. 

Kramer,  Hilton.  "Tuttle's  Art  on  Display  at  Whit- 
ney," The  New  York  Times,  September  12,  1975,  p. 

Krauss,  Rosalind.  "Sense  and  Sensibility:  Reflection 


on  Post  '60s  Sculpture,"  Art  forum,  vol.  12,  November 
1973,  pp.  43-53. 

L[ast],  M[artin].  Pp.  75-76  in  "Reviews  and  Pre- 
views," Art  News,  vol.  69,  April  1970. 

Lubell,  Ellen.  "Wire/Pencil/Shadow:  Elements  of 
Richard  Tuttle,"  Arts  Magazine,  vol.  47,  November 
1972,  pp.  50-52. 

Mayer,  Rosemary.  Pp.  61-62  in  "New  York  Galler- 
ies," Arts  Magazine,  vol.  48,  November  1973. 

Mellow,  James  R.  "Edgar  Negret:  Sculpture  for  the 
Space  Age,"  The  New  York  Times,  February  13,  1972, 
section  2,  p.  23. 

P.  61  in  "New  York,"  Art  International,  vol.  1 1, 

April  20,  1967,  pp.  56-62. 

Morschel,  Jurgem.  Pp.  75-76  in  "Ausstellungen: 
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M[urdock],  R[obert].  "Richard  Tuttle,"  Art  Interna- 
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North,  Charles.  "Richard  Tuttle:  Small  Pleasures," 
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pp.  68-69. 

Perreault,  John.  "Art:  A  Healthy  Pluralism,"  The 

Village  Voice,  vol.  17,  February  17,  1972,  pp.  21-22. 

_    Pp.    16-17   in   "Art:    Simple,   Not    Simple- 

Minded,"   The   Village   Voice,  vol.    13,  January   18, 


Pincus-Witten,  Robert.  "The  Art  of  Richard  Tut- 
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Pomeroy,  Ralph.  "New  York:  Soft  Art,"  Art  and 
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Preston,  Stuart.  "Salute  to  a  Pioneer  Abstraction- 
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section  2,  Part  1,  p.  X27. 

Ratcliff,  Carter.  P.  76  in  "New  York  Letter,"  Art 
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Pp.  65-66  in  "New  York  Letter,"  Art  Interna- 
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the  Treasure,"  The  New  Yorker,  vol.  51,  June  9,  1975. 

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March  1968. 


The  artist  installing  the  4th  Summer  Wood  Piece  (1974)  for  the  second  installation. 

Notes  on  the  Exhibition 

The  installation  of  the  exhibition,  in  three  distinct 
parts,  was  a  collaborative  effort.  After  the  opening 
installation,  for  which  several  days  were  allotted,  each 
change  was  done  overnight,  with  Tuttle  dismantling 
the  works,  changing  the  location  of  certain  key  pieces 
which  were  borrowed  from  collectors  and  reexecuting 
others.  The  touch-up  work  on  the  walls  was  done  early 
in  the  morning,  before  the  exhibition  opened  to  the 

Thirty  wooden  frames,  painted  the  color  of  the 
walls  in  one  room  of  the  Gertrude  Vanderbilt  Whit- 
ney Galleries  on  the  second  floor  of  the  Museum,  wen- 
designed  by  Tuttle.  with  a  removable  section  so  that  a 
drawing  could  be  slipped  out  and  a  new  one  substi- 
tuted. The  drawings  for  each  installation  were  select- 
ed by  me,  and  the  spacing  between  each  of  the  frames 
was  equal,  so  that  the  groupings  could  be  altered  by 

removing  one  frame  to  make  a  separation  and  adding 
it  to  another  group  instead. 

The  installation  decisions  were  made  by  Tuttle 
and  me,  working  together,  trying  things  out,  discuss- 
ing them,  making  alterations  and  changes  until  each 
piece  related  to  every  other  piece  that  could  be  seen 
from  each  possible  vantage  point.  We  found  that  each 
installation  had  a  different  character  and  a  different 
meaning.  We  agreed  that  the  first  installation  was 
about  focus,  that  the  second  was  visually  "noisier" 
and  more  aggressive;  an  acute  observer  commented 
that  the  first  was  a  whisper,  the  second  a  roar.  The 
third  installation  had  the  most  extreme  variety  in  the 
positioning  of  the  pieces— the  small  Blocks  located  on 
the  floor.  The  Twenty-Six  Series  repositioned  from  the 
wall  to  the  carpeted  floor  of  the  rear  gallerv.  Yellow 
Dancer  installed  adjacent  to  the  minute  9th  Houston 
Work— and  caused  major  readjustments  of  one's  direc- 
tional vision  and  shifts  in  one's  sense  of  gravity.  This 
final  installation,  it  seemed,  was  about  balance.  Tut- 
tle felt  that,  ultimately,  the  exhibition  dealt  with 
contradictions  and  gave  him  an  opportunity  to  expe- 
rience the  work  in  a  new  way. 

There  were  certain  technical  difficulties  we  en- 
countered, which,  when  solutions  were  found,  seemed 
not  to  have  been  difficulties  at  all.  It  became  clear,  for 
instance,  that  the  presence  of  wall  labels  would 
compete  with  and  often  destroy  the  presence  of  the 
work.  A  solution  w:as  found  in  using  the  Whitney's 
floor  plan,  (on  which  the  curators  indicate  the  config- 
uration of  the  moveable  partitions  for  each  exhibi- 
tion) as  a  kind  of  portable  label.  Tuttle  handwrote  the 
information  for  each  piece  in  its  proper  location  on  the 
floor  plan  just  after  the  installation  was  completed, 
and  it  was  rushed  to  the  printer  early  the  next 

To  my  surprise,  the  lighting,  which  I  had  as- 
sumed—especially in  the  case  of  the  wire/graphite/ 
shadow  pieces— would  be  difficult  to  do  properly, 
presented  no  problem  at  all.  Tuttle  preferred  that  the 
walls  be  evenly  washed  with  light  before  he  began  to 
install  the  work,  and  that  the  lighting  remain  constant 
throughout  the  show,  with  no  changes  at  all. 

The  obligation  of  explaining  to  the  public  the 
nature  of  the  exhibition  and  the  reasons  for  producing 
the  catalogue  afterward  were  fulfilled,  in  part,  by  a 
mimeographed  handout,  which  is  reproduced  on 
pages  20-22. 

The  opportunity  to  work  closely  with  Tuttle  al- 
lowed an  understanding  of  the  physical  nature  of  his 
work  and  of  the  importance  of  the  making  of  the  work 
to  the  final  result.  It  also  gave  me  insight  into  aspects 
of  Tuttle's  thought,  attitudes  and  method  which, 
because  they  are  private  and   because  he  generally 


The  artist  installing  the  12th  Paper  Octagonal  (1970) 
for  the  first  installation. 

prefers  to  work  in  solitude,  added  immeasurably  to 
my  understanding  and  appreciation  of  the  work. 

Tuttle  himself  had  an  unusual  attitude  toward  the 
exhibition.  He  felt  that  "the  work  is  the  show.  It 
doesn't  matter  what  happens,"  he  remarked, 
"whether  it's  popular,  unpopular,  successful,  unsuc- 
cessful. The  show  acts,  in  many  ways,  like  points  of 
concentration,  in  the  very  abstract  sense." 

The  response  to  the  exhibition  is  partly  document- 
ed here  in  the  journalistic  articles  that  are  reproduced. 
We  have  chosen  to  include  only  documents  that 
appeared  as  a  direct  response  to  the  show,  rather  than 
longer,  critical  pieces  appearing  subsequently  in  art 
magazines.  I  have  not  included  the  many  letters, 
supportive  as  well  as  irate,  that  we  received  at  the 
Museum  as  a  result  of  the  controversy  the  exhibition 
caused.  That  it  was  controversial  is,  in  itself,  a  positive 
aspect  of  the  exhibition,  because  it  created  an  atmos- 
phere of  dialogue  as  well  as  argument. 



Marcia  Tucker  and  Richard  Tuttle  installing  one  of 
the  1973  Block  pieces  (third  installation). 


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It  was  a  coincidence  that  I  met  Marcia  Tucker  on  my  own  street  corner  in  \  enice.  California,  while  she 
was  working  on  the  Richard  Tuttle  exhibition.  Not  an  unpredictable  occurrence  for  that  area  certainly, 
but  one  that  I  consider  very  fortuitous. 

We  discussed  the  difficulties  of  circulating  Tuttle's  exhibiton  to  another  museum  as  it  is 
traditionally  done,  with  each  work  numbered  in  a  catalogue  and  sent  off  in  a  slotted  crate.  Much  of 
Tuttle's  recent  work  was  created  as  part  of  an  installation.  The  artist  cannot  conjure  up  these  works 
again  in  numerical  sequence  but  must  recreate  them  with  as  much  sensitivity  to  their  surroundings  as 
when  initially  done.  Ms.  Tucker  proposed  that  if  Tuttle  showed  at  the  Otis  Galley  it  would  serve  as  an 
extension  of  the  process  of  installation  started  at  the  Whitney  Museum.  Away  from  New  York  and  a 
museum  context,  Tuttle  could  select  very  sparingly  from  his  assembled  oeuvre  and  combine  pieces  with 
work  created  on  the  gallery  walls. 

Tuttle  arrived  here  on  a  Sunday  evening  and  within  two  hours  had  put  up  three  pieces.  The 
next  day  he  did  three  more  and  selected  two  of  the  existing  works  sent  from  the  Whitney;  the  selection 
and  placement  of  the  exhibition  was  entirely  Tuttle's.  He  returned  to  Los  Angeles  three  weeks  later  for 
the  installation  of  Part  II.  He  left  instructions  for  changing  the  selection  of  drawings  on  the  entrance  wall 
twice  a  week,  throughout  the  exhibition. 

I  had  not  met  Richard  Tuttle  before  he  came  here  and  I  really  must  thank  him  for  his  trust  in 
me,  and  thank  Ms.  Tucker  for  bringing  him  to  us.  Members  of  the  Art  Committee  of  the  Otis  An 
Associates  gave  generously  of  their  own  funds  to  have  Tuttle  come  here,  as  well  as  approving  support 
from  the  Associates.  I  wish  in  addition  to  thank  Helen  Lewis.  Assistant  Curator,  and  other  members  of 
the  Otis  staff  and  those  at  the  Whitney  who  supported  our  efforts. 

Hal  Glicksman 
Gallery  Director 
February  1976 


Paper  Cubes,  1964.  Paper,  each  3  x  3  x  3".  Collection 
of  Betty  Parsons,  New  York. 


10th  Cloth  Octagonal.  1968.  Dyed  cloth,  approxi- 
mately 54".  Collection  of  Dr.  Ruprecht  Zwirner, 
Braunlingen,  Germany. 

8th  Rope  Piece.  1974.  Rope  and  nails,  1 XA" .  Collection  of 
the  artist. 

Silver  Abstraction  1964.  Painted  wood,  approximately  3 
x  96".  Collection  of  Robert  A.  Rowan,  Los  Angeles. 


6th  Rome  Piece.  1974.  Graphite  and  paper,  6  x  4".  Collection  of  the 


3rd  Cincinnati  Piece. 
of  the  artist. 

1974.  Painted  wood,  23  x  3%  x  YW .  Collection 

Second  installation  view 



>n/  Ropt  Piece.  1974.  Rope  and  nails,  Vi  x 
3".  Collection  of  the  artist. 

fS^^ks.*      9. 





CI     1^ 


Infilled.  1967.  Dyed  and  sewn  canvas,  approximately  38". 
Collection  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ronald  K.  Greenberg,  St.  Louis, 

1  lth  Paper  Octagonal.  1970.  Paper,  approximately  54".  Collection 
of  A.  Baldessari,  Bari,  Italy. 


2nd  Rome  Piece.  1975.  Graphite  and  paper,  5V4  x  3".  Collection 
of  the  artist. 

Wth  Painting  for  the  Wall.  1970.  Acrylic  and  graphite,  48  x  60' 
Collection  of  the  artist. 



los  3ngtlrs  Cimn  5 

Men.,  Feb.  9, 1976-Part  IV 

Adrift  in  the  Wide  Open  Spaces 


TlmtJ  SUH  Writer 

People  in  Western  culture  com- 
monly suffer  a  basic  fear  of  floating 
away.  It's  evidently  triggered  by 
some  •  very  primitive  anxiety  that 
somebody  is  going  to  shut  off  one's 
Gravity  Switch,  causing  him  to  drift 
off  into  the  cosmos  without  so  much 
as  a  lunch  bucket. 

There  is  currently  an  exhibition  on 
view  at  the  Otis  Art  Institute  Gallery 
that  seems  to  be  centered  about  feel- 
ings that  attach  themselves  to  empty 
space.  The  work  is  by  New  Yorker 
Richard  Tuttle  and  consists  of  small 
objects  hung  on  hugely  empty  walls. 
It  wouldn't  be  the  same  experience 
without  the  void  space,  so  what  do 
■we  know  about  blankness? 

This  phobia  has  been  around  as 
long  as  human  memory.  It  is  not  al- 
ways a  phobia.  Sometimes  it  is  a  phi- 
lia,  if  that  is  the  word,  for  an  attrac- 
tive fascination.  Ambivalence  about 
floating  off  in  the  cosmos  is  probably 
at  the  bottom  of  the  Icarus  myth. 

A  definite  phobe  often  suffers  un- 
easiness faced  by  any  sort  of  empti- 
ness. The  condition  is  called  Horror 
Vaccui  and  has  affected  whole  cul- 
tures. The  barbarians  had  it,  causing 
them  to  encrust  every  inch  of  their 
artifacts  in  inlay  and  complex  design. 
The  Victorians  had  it,  causing  them 
to  stuff  their  homes  down  to  the  last 
antimacassar  and  corner  shelf. 

Psychologists  call  the  condition 
"fear  of  sensory  deprivation"  and  spe- 
culate that  people  who  have  it  were 
those  infants  who  were  left  kicking 
helplessly  like  upended  beetles.  Kids 
who  always  got  cuddled  for  crying 
are  supposedly  the  adults  who  enjoy 
the  sensation  of  floating. 

Obviously  the  way  anybody  feels 
about  empty  space  conditions  his  re- 
sponse to  works  of  art.  Western  peo- 
ple tend  to  be  phobes  so  art  that  uses 
empty  space  in  a  certain  way  makes 
them  uneasy.  The  sculpture  of  Alber- 
to Giacometti  tended  to  relationships 
that  made  his  figures  look  as  if  infini- 
ty were  nibbling  them  away.  Closer 
to  home  the  sculpture  of  Robert  Gra- 
ham suggests  beautiful  people  isolat- 
ed in  the  endless  spaces  of  self-ab- 

sorption. Bruce  Nauman's  use  of  void 
space  tends  to  be  reflexive,  causing 
viewers  to  feel  their  response  lies 
more  in  themselves  than  in  the  object 
The  Tuttle  exhibition  is  the  second 
half  of  a  similar  installation  just  pre- 
ceding. Works  in  two  main  galleries 
consist  of  one  large  wall  made  to 
seem  even  larger  being  occupied  by  a 
single  small  object.  "Fourth  Cincinna- 
ti Piece,"  for  example,  is  just  a  foot- 
long  piece  of  lumber,  cut  obliquely 
and  painted  white.  "Third  Rope 
Piece"  is  just  a  2-inch  length  of  hemp 
mounted  horizontally. 

The  second  large  gallery  contains 
works  more  conventionally  similar  to 
a  genre  of  contemporary  painting. 
These  are  geometric  shapes  of  can- 
vas, paper  or  paint  bearing  oblique" 
cuts  that  suggest  three-dimensional 

Conventionally  installed,  any  of 
these  works  would  appear  familiar  as 
some  other  sort  of  art — either  forma- 
list painting  or  dadaist  gestures,  so 
the  use  of  the  single-wall  installation 
is  crucial  to  our  feelings  about  them. 
When  I  saw  Tuttle  in  a  Wilder  Gal- 

lery solo  a  few  years  back,  the  works 
came  across  as  simply  an  interesting 
variation  on  Ron  Davis.  Either  the 
Wilder  installation  didn't  convey  the 
artist's  intent  or  his  intent  has 

A  couple  of  viewers  at  Otis  just 
snorted  disdainfully  and  walked  out 
Either  they  saw  just  another  van- 
guard put-on  or  tht>  were  aware 
that  the  small-object-in-a-big-void  in- 
stallation is  a  psycho-formal  artistic 
device  known  to  every  second-year 
graphic  design  student.  At  first  your 
reporter  felt  somewhat  huffy,  too. 

However,  all  art  is  in  the  end  based 
on  some  variation  on  a  known  princi- 
ple. 1  at' ic  man'iges  to  u;e  it  to  con- 
vey an  impression  of  philosophical 
speculation.  His  small,  almost  child- 
ishly simple  paintings,  drawings  and 
objects  suggest  overtones  of  mankind 
trying  to  fathom  the  universe  as  a 
touching,  helpless  gesture,  like  strik- 
ing a  match  in  infinity. 

The  exhibition  was  organized  by 
Marcia  Tucker  of  New  York's  Whit- 
ney Museum.  It  remains  at  Otis  to 
Feb.  29. 


Richard  Tuttle  considering  the  second  installation  at  Otiv